The Joy in Small Pleasures

Lately I keep thinking about the joy in small pleasures. Over Memorial Day Weekend, I felt some FOMO (“fear of missing out” for those of you unfamiliar with the acronym) because other people posted pictures of themselves at the beach, or taking a long hike, or chilling in someone’s backyard. I didn’t do any of those things. I was housesitting for some friends and swayed in a hammock while reading a good book. I picked strawberries straight from the plant and plucked snap peas off the vine.

Similarly, this past weekend I plopped blueberries directly into my mouth after pulling them from the bush. I had dinner with six adults and two kids indoors, without masks, for the first time since February 2020. I’m not ashamed to admit I felt moved by the experience.

For the past year and some change, I haven’t done any of the things I mentioned above because I don’t own a hammock, or blueberry bushes, or strawberry plants. I haven’t dined with a large group of friends because it was too challenging to maneuver safely and they didn’t feel comfortable putting themselves at risk without being vaccinated.

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I think hammock time is my favorite time. Photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

Coming out of this pandemic, I’m treasuring those small pleasures: a warm breeze, fresh fruit and vegetables, dinner with friends. None of the things I mentioned are big affairs like a birth, wedding, graduation, or heck, even a vacation. They’re mundane and it’s easy for me to forget how much joy I derive from them.

I forget it’s the small things, the pedestrian things that can also fill my heart to bursting. It’s not always the grand adventures or the big events that move me the most. Coming out of this pandemic has shown me that. It reminds me of Mary Oliver’s famous poem “The Summer Day.” She writes:

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

I know I’m often focused on the big things but maybe I can take a page from Mary Oliver’s book and remind myself my wild and precious life includes not only the clamor and the clangor of big events but also the quiet chirp of crickets and laughter among friends.

I dream of a world where we savor the simple pleasures. A world where we recognize the joy in the mundane. A world where we remember happiness can be found not only in winning an award or manifesting our dreams, but also in hugging a dear friend and playing with a small child.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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