Enjoying the small pleasures of daily life is something I am teaching myself once more. It’s as if the overwhelming busyness of the last ten years wiped out my sense of perspective to enjoy the treasures of daily life. While I know it's true that one never stops learning, I hadn’t expected to have to relearn lessons I thought I already knew.
Discovery is an important part of finding pleasure in what we experience. Novelty is as much about new attitudes as it is about new experiences. While we all can’t have new experiences, we can all nurture new attitudes.
It turns out that I like washing dishes and cleaning the kitchen. I feel satisfaction when the dishes and pots are all cleaned and the kitchen surfaces wiped down. My hands get dry and my fingers stiff, and I enjoy the sensation of rubbing lotion into my hands when I’ve set the dishcloth aside. I’ve let go of my perfectionism to appreciate when my brother Jon takes over doing the kitchen clean-up for an evening.
On a recent grocery excursion by myself I visited two grocery stores – a natural foods one and a national chain store – checking things off a list and getting reacquainted with the placement of products, noting items I hadn’t seen before. When I got home, I unloaded the groceries, making numerous trips from the car to the kitchen. It was 8 degrees F, and I relished the cold air that slowed my joints and careful steps from car to house. It was like storing treasures to put away the bright green peppers, skinny zucchini, and large navel oranges. It made me feel wealthy and appreciated, knowing that I had brought food home to feed my family.
As our household figures out how to help Mom become active again after her hospitalization with heart problems, thoughts pop up that I remember thinking when we were raising our daughter, who is now 30. When do I help, and when do I support opportunities for Mom to do things for herself? What is a safe activity, and what requires insistence on using a cane or letting me carry the hot cup of coffee? Even though my patience has grown through helping Mom, I still need to remind myself to practice patience when an activity takes longer than anticipated or needs to be repeated.
One discovers authentic truths that make life worth living like . . . Humility in the rhythm of repeating tasks that support how a household cares for its needs . . . A consciousness of meditative reflections as one contemplates the tasks while doing them . . . The sense of gathering up and celebrating the small pleasures and daily treasures, because one claims them as one’s own . . .
We must soon replace our washer and dryer, which have been nursed and nudged along for 15 years. I’m looking forward to the process of studying our shopping choices, instead of begrudging another required task. I remember a girlfriend remarking on how giddy she felt after installing new carpeting in her house. A new washer and dryer should give me pleasure that I am getting such treasures!
Scripture says, “And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored.” [Acts 9:18a NRSV] I think that’s what happens when we begin to see the moments in our daily lives with new attitudes.