Sometimes the best pleasures in life are the simple one. Like when you slip into bed the evening of the day that you’ve done laundry, that first subtle feeling of “clean sheets” like a sigh. Or the joy you feel when you hear a certain song – you’re just walking along, lost in your thoughts, and “Wedding Bell Blues” (aka, Marry Me, Bill) comes on, and suddenly your spirits lift and you sing along, stepping in time to the music, no longer wandering through past or worrying about future, just there.
Reading to children is another of my simple pleasures. Sitting quietly, drawing them into the story, getting into the play of the words, helping them notice clues that the pictures might provide, watching them light up as they get it. The greatest complement they can provide is a simple command: “Again.” Joy!
Sitting quietly with a purring cat on your lap, so relaxed she’s practically boneless, trusting you so much, so much you’re afraid to move for fear of awakening her.
Walking through a quiet wood, the trees stirred by a breeze so gentle you don’t feel it on the forest floor, the only sound the whisper of the leaves, the creaking and tapping of the limbs. The smell of the forest floor.
I remember once, in high school, sitting on the steps to my front porch with a mug of tea. It was early and the bowl of the pasture in front of home was filled with cloud. It smelt damp and green. Something moved through the fog, stirring it, a deer. A herd of deer, grazing through the fog, then disappearing into the fog again.
Or the night when, driving home long after curfew, I stopped the car at a red light on an empty road, and an antlered buck stepped into the crosswalk, strode majestically across the four-lane road, and disappeared into the woods beyond the gas station. Then the light turned green.
One of my aunts (cousin once removed, but aunt by courtesy), had an avocado tree in her back yard. When I stayed with her, she made avocado omelet for breakfast, avocado sandwiches for lunch, avocado salad for dinner. Heaven! And when I went out at night, she didn’t wait up for me but left a lighted scented candle in the guest bathroom to let me know she was thinking about me.
One November morning, I went for my usual Sunday marathon walk. It was such a beautiful autumnal day, I skipped yoga to spend more time in the park because the leaves were crisp and swirled around in the wind, and my troubles swirled away with them. I ascended Great Hill and discovered a congregation of dogs dancing in the wind, swirling, jumping, racing, rejoicing, while their owners stood in groups, hands wrapped around steaming cups of Starbucks. I stood and laughed, infected by their spirit.
Or lying in a pool, floating, staring up at the blue, blue sky, the sound of the waves washing onto the shore. Somewhere in the distance, you can hear someone singing along to the radio, and the sound of my husband turning pages in the book he’s reading. The breeze gently stroking the water on my face.
Working in a greenhouse, my fingers poking holes in cold wet dirt, plunging an individual seedling into each hole, its delicate green smooth under the rough particles clinging to my fingers.
These are a few of my favorite things, simple things, that cause joy.