I grew up in a household with a mother and a dad who were polar opposites in nearly every way. My mother was only 7 when her own mother died; she and her younger brother, who was only 6, were scarred for life. For them, fear was a constant companion, fear of more loss they couldn’t predict. The good that came their way too often had a “but” attached to it (even if they were the only ones who could hear it).
My dad grew up in a household full of enough; there were no traumas. They had enough food, enough money, enough love. He was the baby, the last child of six, and adored. And he grew up with a sunny disposition that naturally drew others to him.
He was the kind of person everyone wanted to be around.
We lived in a good neighborhood and had a nice house, although I don’t remember my mother ever smiling as she looked at the decor, the furniture so carefully chosen and placed, the wallpaper – all the items that she had didn’t seem to make her happy. I know I was only a kid, but …
My dad? He honestly loved life (there had been no trauma in his childhood) and it showed. It showed in how he smiled at others, how he treated everyone, how often he laughed and smiled, and how much pleasure he got with simple things.
He grew a few tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots in a tiny garden in our back yard. Oh, corn! That was special! He brought them in so happily, you would have thought they were pure gold. We had a grapevine, although I don’t remember if it actually produced grapes. But I do remember him trimming it and smiling. We had a small screened-in porch that he built all by himself, even though he wasn’t a carpenter. I remember sitting with him on the glider / rocker in it and laughing about something. We did that a lot.
It seems to me as I look back I see him able to enjoy life’s simple pleasures.
Grow tomatoes. Play with his kids (my brother and me). Play golf with friends. Walk on the beach nearby with us. It all seemed to make him happy.
So why this topic now? Because we’re living in a fearful world in 2020; it’s nothing like we’ve seen before in modern times. It’s a worldwide scare; no one is automatically immune. So much pain worldwide; so many deaths. Much else has been lost, including the ability to earn a wage and to provide for a family for far too many. And in no way am I minimizing that; it’s central to what most adults expect when they grow up. It’s something few ever expected to experience.
But for some … it’s as though they’ve forgotten that life is also full of wonders, if we only look for them. Simple pleasures, like reading a book on my Kindle yesterday on my back deck and seeing a tiny green dragonfly suddenly perched on the Kindle’s edge for a minute or so. Bright green body, delicate white wings. Just gorgeous and so unexpected! Of course, as I reached for my phone to take a picture – poof! Gone in flight. But I still smile remembering it.
There was an article in something I read recently about families creating different play spaces for their kids in their back yard, like obstacle courses. One even built a tree house together – making the most of what they had, for sure.
For me, it’s not the things that matter; it’s how I see and value what I have as opposed to focusing on what I don’t have.
It’s finding joy in unexpected places and events – heck, even seeing a baby smile in the supermarket gets me going. And a baby laughing? One of the all-time BEST sounds in the world!
How about you? In this time of concern, what is keeping you alive? What brings you joy? What helps you smile? Please share your thoughts with us – what are YOUR simple pleasures?