Write for You: In Praise of Your Surroundings

by Nancy Casey

Everybody’s got to be somewhere. It’s part of the definition of being alive. Where are you?

We all live in the cocoon of our surroundings. What’s under you? A bed, a chair, your shoes? The floor, the ground, the molten core of the earth? What’s around you? A room, music, the weather?

Today, take in your surroundings. Notice what is big and vast, such as thunder and the stars. Notice the tiny things, such as pollen and the mortar the holds together the bricks in the buildings of your town. Don’t stop with what you see. Notice what you can smell and touch and taste and hear.

Notice it all, and sing its praises.

How do you sing praises? The important thing is to go on and on, lavishing happy words, slathering them recklessly about. Thinking up one thing after another which is marvelous about that which you are praising.

When you sing praise, you talk to the object of your admiration, not about it. You must cheer the plants for how brave they are, not simply observe that they are struggling valiantly in the cold. You must thank the bag of cat food for all the kitty-nutrition, rather than merely list the ingredients on the back. You must talk to the dishtowel like you are giving it an award.

Use the special vocabulary of praise. Try out old-fashioned formal-sounding phrases such as, “Oh ye who…” or “I hereby express my deepest esteem…” You could try writing like you are giving a speech, or borrow the language you hear in church. You can say, “Hooray!” You can say, “Look at you!” You can say, “Hallelujah!”

What can you praise something for? For being present in your world. For the greenness of its green or the blueness of its blue. For the generous service it renders or the wonderful way it tastes. For protecting you. For making the world around you interesting and beautiful. For making you interesting and beautiful.

Praise what amuses you. Praise what teaches you. Praise what inspires you. Up, down, side, back and all around, praise what surrounds you.

When you have finished your song of praise, give it a title and write the date on it as well. Here is an example of what you might write.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. She has taught writing classes at the Recovery Center and will return again in the spring of 2018. If you have a writing project you would like help with, email latahrecoverycenter@gmail.com for more information.



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