Reach for the simple pleasures – blessings everywhere

The new norm teaches new habits and preferences.  Some welcomed and some not.  Some good, and some less good (a softer term than bad).  I speak here about the welcomed and good.  Sheltering in during these pandemic times diminishes or veils the attractions and distractions outside the home. For some, the confinement is difficult, since the limit of outdoor activities has stretched for months.  While we understand the wisdom of following health guidelines, we adjust our basic instinct for freedom of movement, and for some, this curtailment can be painful.  Yet, we have a choice.  The choice between playing it safe, or the impulse to ignore advice.  I choose to  follow good advice as best I can.

A few times, I’ve been asked if I get bored staying mostly at home.  The question never baffles me.  Quite normal.  Being “holed in” is a challenge. Even squirrels and gofers need to get out of their holes at least once in a while.  But my answer has always been – no.  And thank God for that.  What do I do, they ask.  I just try to find simple pleasures some of which I shall share with you here.

I sit in  front of my laptop and surf for interesting Facebook postings of friends.  I  especially search for upbeat messages, and most especially for beautiful pictures with stories behind them.  While some people decry the disadvantages and cons of this social medium, it definitely owns some benefits.  I focus on the benefits.

Today, a lush picture of an orchid plant grabbed my attention. 

Simple pleasure — free to behold (photo by Debbie Dillon)

It was in a post from my friend Debbie, a Methodist pastor in California, sharing about her husband who presumably gained strength to walk around the block after being sick for some days.  Her concern turning to hope, she uttered praise to the Lord, the source of healing. Hope flows full in the heart that believes.  The lovely,  vibrant orchid plant that accompanied her message certainly emanates that joy in hope. A pleasure to behold.

After perusing more messages and pictures on FB, I turned on the TV for some classical music, a routine that has become a favorite for relaxation.  This afternoon, I watched for the nth time on a PBS channel the anniversary concert of Les Mis, a glorious array of musical numbers that one can never tire of.  So often have I heard the songs, that I rendered my private sing along.  After that, I watched a pianist play Beethoven’s “Fur Elise”, a sweetly melodic piece that jumps into a perky and playful interval after a wave of enchanting movement in slow legato.  I remembered my son skillfully played this music when he was a piano student during his elementary grades. Now, his son, my grandson Eliott, is a piano student.  Most days of the week in the late afternoons, he calls on facetime for me to watch and listen to him during his piano lessons.  Always an endearing pleasure for me.  And whenever he’s late in calling, I find myself ringing him up to ask if he has any piano lesson scheduled that afternoon.  Sometimes he says, “I’ll call you Lola when I’m ready.”  Funny, this Lola can’t wait to indulge in that simple pleasure.

Still on the enjoyment of music – many times, I’m treated to a casual recital right in my living room.  I sit enthralled listening to a Japanese friend practicing Chopin’s “Fantasia – Impromptu” on the piano.  A zesty composition that starts with an aggressive and exciting rise to a euphoric suspension that traipses down the octave in a pattern of exhilarating expression.  Flowery poetry, huh?  That’s what music does to me.  The music then lingers in a soothing plateau of richly enchanting melody adapted to a charming contemporary song entitled “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows”.  Following her solo rehearsal, she duets with her friend, a violinist, and together perform Schubert’s soulful Serenade or Elgar’s romantically pensive “Salut d’ Amour”, or Liszt’s pesky “Campanella”, or Rehfeld’s tentative “Humoresque”.  Pure, simple pleasure that figuratively carries me to the clouds. 

Then, when time for dinner, I find myself trying my culinary talent for making soup, designed around any available ingredients or leftovers in the refrigerator.  The spontaneously created concoction often amazes me.  I love soup, and often my preference is soup for meals anytime of the day.  Without embarrassment, I consider myself a “soup connoisseur”, picky and discriminating to an extent.  For fun, when I eat by myself, I shamefully slurp my soup, and that’s even more enjoyable.  A teaser to myself, so to speak, the equivalent of a self-pat on my back for a culinary feat. Truly delightful, a simple pleasure.

And then of course, I turn to my writing muse for inspiration, and when it’s there – time goes by unknowingly fast.  An interest, a pleasure and a gift I so thank God for.

I can tell you more of my simple pleasures, but I’m saving some for future blogs.  I hope you find yours.  There are many, just there – reach out, hang on to them long enough for you to enjoy. And when you unfold your blanket for the evening’s rest, you’ll heave a sigh of relief thankful for a good day.  

Take heart in the simple pleasures, blessings that are freely given – try to make this a new good habit.

Linda P. Jacob