Teeny Tiny Joys
This is a tough time for old hippies like me.
We joined the establishment decades ago, but tried throughout to keep our values intact. We’ve championed the needs of the poor and the powerless, worked to protect human rights and preserve the environment, protested war and corruption – all while also trying to support our families and respect opinions that differed from ours.
This year is difficult. We of the peace-and-love generation are truly worried that the progress we had made in the last sixty years may be dismantled. We are afraid for civil rights, for clean air, for health care, for education.
But despite these significant concerns, we stay optimistic. Because we also believe in the basic goodness of human beings.
We’ll get through the current crisis, just as we survived fearful and distressing times in the past.
As for me personally, what’s helping me stay hopeful and happy is concentrating on the small pleasures that still occur every day. The teeny tiny joys that comfort me.
Here’s how I had a sweet day today.
It snowed last night, so I went out this morning and played with the dog. Theo loves the snow. He runs around like a nut. I hate cold weather, but he brings joy through his sheer pleasure of the moment.
But I also realized out in the slushy snow that my boots had hit the end of the road. I could feel my socks slowly getting wet. So okay, time for new boots. Hell, I like shopping, even if it means I have to contend with holiday crowds.
First, though, I had a dentist appointment. Now that doesn’t exactly bring pleasure to a day. But it was just a cleaning and I have the sweetest hygienist in the world. An immigrant from Thailand, she told me once that she envied me for having a gift for writing. “I could never do that… my English is just not good enough. It is a struggle for me just to read.” Well, I informed her firmly that she not only learned English, she went to school and studied and passed the licensing for dental hygiene in a language not her own. “How many people could do that… do you think I could learn a specialized profession in Thailand?” “Oh, I never thought of it that way… I guess I did okay,” she said.
So that’s why I don’t mind going to the dentist. But still, it’s the dentist, so I am certainly due a little reward. My mother used to bribe me; I see no reason to discontinue that tradition.
So shopping for boots.
I drove half an hour to the dentist, so what’s another half hour to my favorite shoe store? It sounds about right to me.
I arrived at the store, and there was a parking space right in front. Nice.
I found some pretty nice boots. Waterproof, lined – and cool looking too. Even though I have a Medicare card in my wallet, I still want to look cool.
However, in the same shopping center, there are three other stores that carry shoes. And that Medicare card also indicates that I need to accept that I am an old retired person who needs to be frugal. So I put the boots back in the box (kind of in the bottom of the rack as protection) and went to check out the other stores.
Three stores later, I was sure that I wanted those first boots.
But I also needed lunch. So I ran into McDonald’s for a cheeseburger and a coffee. The cheeseburger was consumed back in my car in under sixty seconds, but the coffee – how can coffee be that hot and yet not demonstrating a rolling boil right in the cup? Ah, but no complaints. Not today. I left the coffee in the car and went back to the first store.
And guess what? I was gone an hour and the boots were gone too. And even though I hadn’t been sure I really wanted them – after all, I went to three other stores to see if I could find something better – now that they were gone I wanted them in the worst way.
I went up to the desk and asked if there were any more in the back. No, everything they had was out – (which I hardly ever believe; I worked in retail several years ago. Where does the shit come from when they re-stock? Why – from out back, of course) – but anyway, I am determined not to let stuff bug me unless actual lives are at stake.
So I thanked the clerk and turned to go. And she said, “You know, I could order those for you online and they will be delivered in under 7 days right to your door, and there’s no shipping charge.” Ah. So now I could have them. Did I want them? Well… did I want to shop more? Did I want wet, cold feet?
Yes. Yes I did want cool boots and dry warm feet. The clerk entered the order and she said,“You know what, they’re offering $10 off today online, and it looks like even when I’m ordering from the store, you might get it.” And I did. I didn’t get to take the boots home today, but they were cheaper than if I had bought them on the first go-round.
That means that some other woman got those cool boots while I was eating a cheeseburger. So she was probably really happy. And I got the same boots and I saved ten dollars. So two people got happy today, and I ate a cheeseburger. For me, right now, that’s the definition of a good day.
And I got back to my car, and my coffee was exactly the right temperature.
And I turned the key and the radio came on, and my fantasy sweetheart James Taylor was singing “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.”
In some ways, the world is terrible.
In some ways – teeny tiny ways – the world is sweet.