Living for Simple Pleasures
I believe in enjoying simple pleasures. There is nothing quite as blissful, from my perspective, as sinking into a soothing bubble bath, or sipping at the perfect cup of tea. These random and ostensibly meaningless things keep me just a little more balanced throughout my tumultuous life. It was through the most unanticipated experience that I discovered the true delight of simplicity.
As a child, I was always the one to get hyped up for a big event. Every birthday party, every Easter celebration, every hayride was going to be the most perfectly amazing occurrence ever. However, when the time came for each to take place, I was always let down. My dopey cousin got me an embarrassing present at the birthday party, my dress got grass stained when I wiped out during Easter, and hay is excessively pokey and scratchy on a frosty evening. Even though I was just a child, I was already becoming disenchanted with the outrageously flawed institution called life. I just could not understand how unjust and complex the universe really is.
Then, in sixth grade, my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. There was a slow growing carcinoid tumor in a lobe of her right lung. I was terrified. Thankfully no chemotherapy was required to fix her up; however, she did have to go under the knife. My mother had to have lung surgery when she was barely over forty and I was only twelve. I was too young to live without her and she was too young to die. I could not stop having nightmares. I continually imagined a future where something went terribly wrong with her surgery. Life had already shown me that disappointments are plentiful, why should I expect anything different now? After the agonizingly long school day, when everything was finally over with, I prayed and thanked God.
Visiting with my mother in recovery is a memory almost as strong as the stressful anticipation of the surgery day itself. She spent a longer time in the ICU than was expected and that delayed the moment I could finally tell her in person how much I loved and missed her. She would call me after school some days but the hazy sound of pain medication that masked her voice was disturbing. I feared that when I finally got the chance to see her I would not recognize my mother; and that is just what happened. The woman I finally witnessed matched the drugged out voice I heard over the telephone; this was not my mother as I remembered her.
Most days I was too frightened of her fragile looking state and the complicated machinery attached to every side of my mother, to do more than sit in the stiff corner chair and read my book. The first weekend I got to stay late with just my grandma and mother, I was inducted into their nightly ritual. Grandma would unpack the fresh homemade cookies and thin, chalky, hospital cafeteria style, but deliciously ice-cold, skim milk. Amazingly, I found that during those brief minutes everything was back to normal. We girls got to talk, laugh, and forget that things more complicated than dunking cookies existed anywhere. The perfect simplicity was more than I could have asked for and I made it goal to incorporate that perspective into my everyday life.
Just last year, my parents separated. During the argumentative moving stage I started to turn back into my twelve year old self. All of the old insecurities, nightmares and depression came back; how could my mother and I survive this life on our own? After months of moping the realization finally smacked me in the face. Life is too short to be excessively cynical and gloomy. I knew I had a good life and it was clearly unacceptable for me to ignore all of life’s simplicities that I once learned to savor.
To reduce my nervous tension, I reconnected with two of my most favorite and simply splendid delights: bubble baths and tea. It does not get much simpler than warm water and foamy soapsuds. I believe in letting the mind settle in soothing waters and releasing stress with steaming vapors. I can take that set aside bath time to ponder, read a girly book, or sing aloud at the top of my lungs to some music. Tea is another one of my life’s delights. Whether hot or cold, green or black, tea will always have a uniquely unassuming place in my heart. There is nothing more comforting for illness or a frigid day than a hot mug of tea. Inversely, there is nothing more refreshing during a blistering afternoon than a tall frosted glass of iced tea. With such various utilizations, there is no way to go wrong when you put your trust in mundane contentment. There are no complications with either baths or tea to cause superfluous stress or melancholy and that is precisely what I love about them.
Through trying times, I truly learned to appreciate humble happiness. William Ralph Inge once said, “The happiest people seem to be those who have no particular cause for being happy except that they are so.” I believe the happiest people are those who have learned to see past the superficiality of society and live for simple pleasures.