Appreciating Life’s Little Pleasures by Chris Brauer
I have a number of little journals tucked into my desk. Some I use regularly and others I only use once or twice a month. One of the smaller journals is called Life’s Little Pleasures, and each page features a silly drawing and a quick caption about something that brings me joy – even for just a moment. None of these things are life altering, but rather a temporarily lift of the spirit. This journal is more about the small moments that connect to the bigger moments, and sometimes I flip through the pages when I’m not feeling myself. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded, and I thought I would share some of the entries.
Is there anything more beautiful than a clean kitchen on a Sunday morning? I would venture to say not. I especially appreciate it when the French press is clean and I can make coffee without having to first deal with the previous day’s grounds. Our kitchen is in a constant state of unrest, especially after our teenage son has grazed for hours after I’ve gone to bed. Though he sometimes attempts to clean up after himself, he never really gets it right and it’s always a surprise what disaster awaits when I wake up. A clean kitchen allows me to easily imagine all the possibilities for dinner without worrying about having to first scrub the burnt rice pot or scoop the cold bacon grease out of the frying pan.
I recently bit into the first garden strawberry of the season, and it all came rushing back: the memories of summers past, and the innocence of youth, and those quiet moments of bliss that make life worth living. I often forget how delicious fruit can be.
Though it is rarely convenient, I do appreciate the occasional interruption when one of my cats jumps on my desk to say hello. They’re generally quite content to eat, sleep and chase bugs without worrying about constant affection – they do their thing and I do mine – but every so often they check in and it’s nice to sit back and make time to massage their faces or rub behind their ears as they purr and snuggle into my lap. I’m not fond of cat hair on the keyboard, but it’s a small price to pay.
I love new socks. I never fully understood the simple joy of new socks as a child, but I know better now. Slipping my feet into new socks is like climbing into bed sheets fresh from the dryer – there is a magical fuzziness that is so fleeting, and temporary and I often stop what I’m doing just to stand there in sock-induced harmony. Lollipops and rainbows are fine, but nothing compared to new socks. If it weren’t for the enormous amount of fabric waste (and cost), I would create a paper towel-type roll and start each day with a new pair.
It’s always a surprise to receive a handwritten letter in the mail. We live in such an immediate digital world (often rife with poor grammar) that most of us forget what it feels like to write or receive something through the post. We have grown so used to sending something through some sort of device and getting an answer back within the day, but I would argue that speed isn’t always a good thing. Though a handwritten letter may be short or scribbled on the back of a postcard, they reveal an effort made beyond the ordinary. I received a short note on the back of a postcard from a friend who lives in Tokyo – it just said hello and that all is well – but it made my day and I popped downtown to find a local postcard to send back. I may not hear from him again until Christmas card season, but that’s okay.
I’m a morning person, and I don’t often linger in bed. I’d rather get up, get coffee made and set my daily goals rather than lie there with my eyes open as I stare up at the ceiling. But after a long run – or even a short run – I can’t wait to get home and lie in a sunbeam on my wife’s side of the bed. Sometimes I eat a snack (careful not to spill crumbs) and relax my muscles and either read or watch part of a silly action movie on my laptop. I can hear the world go by outside and, though I feel a little guilty for doing nothing in the middle of the day, it is such a wonderful way to steal half an hour for myself.
I’m at an age when I no longer care what people think of me, and it is liberating to be goofy and laugh at myself. So what if I sing ABBA songs to my reflection in the mirror as I sweep the kitchen floor, or eat watermelon with a knife and fork so my fingers don’t get sticky, or pretend to tap dance and wander around the store like I’m a member of the Ministry of Silly Walks when trying on new shoes. I like to surround myself with others that can laugh themselves – at the silly things they do and the awkward situations that life throws our way. Life is too short to worry about the little things, and I have no time for those that take themselves too seriously or are offended too easily.