As I was pouring my cup of coffee this morning, deeply inhaling the rich aroma that meandered toward my nose and tentatively swallowing that first, heavenly sip, I marveled at the pleasure this modest indulgence gives me every morning even after 25 years. This simple act of savoring my cup of java reminded me that it is the ordinary pleasures that bestow the most comfort and, I believe, make life’s sorrows bearable.
In the pell-mell rush of living, we sometimes forget to delight in the inconsequential, small things like finding a quarter and remembering as a child the thrill of spending it. Would it be a bottle of grape Nehi that left your lips and tongue looking bruised or would you spend your riches on penny candy from the corner store, which had a glass case that presented the boxes of caramel squirrel nuts, fireballs and Maryjanes as if they were fine Cartier jewels?
Many of us don’t revel in the simple joys: gazing at the first snowfall of the season, or anticipating with giddiness, cracking open the latest novel by a favorite author. Rather, we perpetually run, laden by cell phones, laptops and other devices that make us look like the Star Trek half-human half-machine Borgs. We overextend ourselves into exhaustion, never taking the time to really inhale those proverbial roses.
Not too long ago, during a walk, I was fretting about a problem and having one of those mental arguments we have with ourselves as we try to figure things out. A truck with a dog hanging out of the window drove by. The lab with his ears flapping back, mouth wide open and tongue lolling to one side looked like he was grinning from ear to ear. His staccato barks sounded as if he was howling carpe diem – seize the day – to the strollers. His goofy expression made me grin and lifted my spirits. I stopped perseverating and focused, instead, on the smell of the pines and being out and about, just like that dog.
Cherishing the little things reminds us of what is truly important and our connection to them. It also sometimes humbles us – something we can all be reintroduced to from time to time.
I recently came home to find a huge package on my stoop. I smiled when I saw it was a box of Macintosh apples. A friend, knowing how much I miss the crisp days of fall in New England sends me apples every year. Seeing that present leaning against my door triggered an upwelling of tenderness for her, and I was awed by her kindness and generosity.
Henry David Thoreau said “That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.” He too probably saw a dog that made him laugh.
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