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Simple Pleasures

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?

Susan Rooks
Susan Rookshttps://grammargoddess.com/
With 25 years’ experience as an international speaker and workshop leader, Susan Rooks is uniquely positioned to help people master the communication skills they need to succeed. In 1995, Susan formed Grammar Goddess Communication to help business professionals enhance their communication skills. She creates and leads three-hour “Brush Up on Your Skills” workshops in three main areas: American grammar, business writing, and interpersonal skills. And recently she created and began leading introductory workshops to help business pros maximize their LinkedIn experience, offering it to Chambers of Commerce free of charge. As a copyeditor (and editor of nonfiction only), Susan has worked on projects ranging from blogs to award-winning children’s books to best-selling business books to corporate annual reports (with clients from half a dozen countries), ensuring that all material is professionally presented and free from grammatical errors. From the beginning, Susan’s only goal was to help everyone look and sound as smart as they are.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Susan – Great perspective. I love that my wife is not traveling as much as she had been. We are not together every moment of the day, but we know we can pop into each other’s office for a quick chat. If phone calls permit, we each lunch together and work on the New York Times crossword puzzle. (The easy one.) We now enjoy “Happy Hour” each evening; now that it’s warming up a bit, we can move out to our balcony. The traffic has significantly increased on the Grand Central Parkway, and yes, it’s noisy, but it’s also a sign of life.

  2. Oh, I love this essay very much, Susan. I continue to find much joy in the simple things and experiences including the black bear I spotted yesterday in the side yard! I kept yelling “Black Bear!” and failed to take a photo with my phone. Did I think she could hear me and would turn around to say “Laura!”? I’m such a goofball. She looked gorgeous in her lumbering saunter, in her bending over to take a drink of water from the tiny pond, and then turning to walk back towards the trees, the woods of the side of the mountain. Ah, that black fur contrasting with the bright green wet leaves. My heart kept pounding with awe and excitement for several minutes afterwards. I was inside looking outside these large windows from this House of Joy on Magical Mountain. I’m blessed in countless ways by simple moments that nature offers every single day. I savor the food I eat, the water I drink, the runs I take by the lake, and these precious moments to write and express my utter gratitude for you, for other writers, for the joy of being alive on the planet right here, right now. I take nothing for granted. Thank you for your beautiful story, words and for asking those questions!

    • I echo Laura’s glowing joy plus the call to simple pleasures you invite, Susan. As a #joyfulsimplicity mentor, I’m definitely part of your choir on this topic. Like Laura, and your father, I find joy in so many places … and a global crisis is a call for me to plant even more flowers, in my gardens & on my FB/IG pages. Yesterday, I was delighted by a hummingbird flitting around the flower garden in front of my writing desk. I’m continually astonished by the miracle of nature, and by the exuberance of my dog as she runs to greet me after I’ve been away for an hour (or less). And, if anyone can miss the miracle of a baby’s laughter, it’s time to seriously stop and smell the roses. Thank you for the beautiful expression of a timely topic.

  3. What a nice article Susan. I think I’m a lot like your dad. Maybe I wasn’t always but surely now I enjoy the simple pleasures. Talking to a friend; a blue sky; looking out to the ocean on a dark autumn day; a beautiful rain, a cool breeze. My coffee in the morning and when we break our fast! (In Islam it is said the two happiest times are when a believer will see their Lord and when they are about to break their fast.)
    I do not dwell on what I don’t have. That is a torturous way to live!
    Lovely share,

    • Thanks so much, Laurie! Yeah, he was special, especially for those times. My poor mother was just so caught up in that unimaginable pain of losing her mother … she tried, but the fear and sadness were always with her.

      The list you’ve given is one that I share as well, especially the coffee this time of year sitting on my small front deck on the east side of the cottage, with the sun coming up and the sky glowing. The first light, pink / gold / orange … setting the stage for the day. Pure magic.

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