It occurred to me the other day, as I waved someone through a left turn in front of me, that it is the small pleasures of life that get us through our days. It was a simple gesture, a mutual sign of courtesy, usually acknowledged with a nod or a wave. It was one of those days when I had been less than brilliant, so when the other driver not only waved but smiled, I felt good the rest of the way home.
This is not to diminish the Big Pleasures of life. We need those red circles on our mental calendars to mark great events. How else to note paying off the car, falling in love, or selling a story? But because they mark the high points, they are few in number and widely spaced.
Small pleasures, though, are the chocolate pie after a scrambled egg supper, the M&M’s savored after a five-day diet. They add a sweetness to everyday living and give a lift to the spirit. We all need these small delights that come along unexpectedly and may even go unnoticed. Everyone has a different set of things that soothe and please, but you may recognize some of yours in my list.
I take pleasure in having my car start on a cold morning, and making all the green lights when I’m running late. My spirits lift when I run into one of my grandchildren out shopping — I sometimes forget how beautiful they are. I take inordinate satisfaction in recognizing a line from a poem, and I am filled with glee if I scoop out a handful of change (no pennies) from a jacket pocket. I am quietly joyful when I see familiar handwriting amid the end-of-the-month bills.
These are not the big widescreen joys of life – just the tiny, 12-inch kind. I love to watch the first snowfall from a cozy window and I love even more watching it go into the gutters in April. One of my small joys is buying something, hanging it in my closet, and just thinking about wearing it. Sometimes, it takes pain to show me the real pleasures of life. After a migraine attack, just to look at the world without my eyes hurting is astonishing. And I am always stunned at how blue the spring sky is and what green looks like after a long winter.
The big pleasures recall our joy in living and reflect the values we hold close. The small pleasures are the insights into our humanity that show us how truly unique we are and how joined to the lovely world around us.
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