A few years ago, I read A Little Book of Hygge, and I loved it. Hygge is the Danish word for cozy. I appreciated this book gave a name and in-depth descriptions of a feeling or state of being that I’ve been drawn to since a child.
You too? I thought so. Feeling cozy—- at ease, happy, warm, comforted, and secure seems to be a longing inside all human beings. No wonder that little book was a bestseller for a long time.
I’m a sucker for coziness. The sweetest memories I have are of feeling cozy in different ways on different occasions, even though I couldn’t give it a name at the time.
That October, right after I turned 23, I went on a mission outreach with some friends to Tibet and Nepal. Because of the limited budget, the five of us took trains and buses for the entire trip. We ate a lot of sandwiches, backpacked, and stayed in Youth Hostels. It was the second time I traveled overseas. The first time was a year prior, to Kazakhstan, in the same low-budget, backpack fashion. I loved it! I loved being with like-minded friends and taking purposeful adventures.
On the way from Tibet to Nepal, our bus drove on the highway under Mount Everest. It was about two days long drive. The bus would stop from time to time to give everyone a break.
One time, I got off the bus with my friends, wearing only a cotton hoody, breathing deeply in the fresh chilly air, filled with excitement. I was amazed to see Mount Everest —- the highest peak in the world! My friend snapped a photo of me with my mouth widening to my ears, backdropped with glowing snowy mountains.
That night, we slept on the bus. In the middle of the night during the break, I snuck out of the bus crowded with snoring passengers, wrapping myself in an oversized woolen scarf.
Standing at the side-road, accompanied by several sleep-deprived fellow travelers, I lifted my eyes to the black velvet sky adorned with countless sparkling different-sized diamonds. I held my breath in the presence of silence and the vast glowing sky, trying to make sense of the magical moment.
Suddenly, a big bright diamond dropped in a curve across the sky, quickly faded out, and left a long white trail. I blinked my eyes and saw another one or two moving and dropping! “Shooting stars!” I couldn’t help but shout out under my breath. I forgot to notice if my other fellow travelers’ faces lit up in wonder like mine; however, I will always remember how I experienced what I had only experienced from reading my favorite fairytales.
That trip was a precious gift. And my first encounter with shooting stars that night was the sweetest surprise.
If I had to choose only one word to describe how I felt when I marveled at the majestic snow-topped Mount Everest in a single layer hoody, then returning to the warmth inside the air-conditioned bus full of friendly laughter; or when I saw the unexpected shooting stars with strangers in a thick woolen scarf, the word would be “cozy.”
You may think coziness means a living room with textured blankets, pillows, and scented candles, or the cinnamon buns baked in the oven and hearty soup slowly boiling on the stove. I agree with you. I love coziness in such fashions.
As I grow, the more I thought about it and remembered the sweet moments in my life, the more I realized coziness is not an object to be grabbed but a gift to be received and give away. It’s the kind of gift that will leave a mark and bring us back to the anchor of our soul again and again.
We can light that candle, start that fire, and create a cozy atmosphere in our homes or wear it as a style. But if that is only how far we’d go, it will soon feel bland and unremarkable.
However, if we pass on coziness to others by inviting them into what we just experienced or created, the sparkle will live.
Just like that night over a decade ago, on a sideway parking lot, over the bushes, sparse trees, and Mount Everest, up in the starry black velvet sky, three shooting stars were telling me that I was loved, cared for, and seen.
In turn, I pass on the gift of coziness to you, dear friend, to remind you that the sky you happened to see at sunset the other evening, painted in layers of bright pink and orange, was painted for you.