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'Ahhh' moments enrich life

Published March 27. 2010 09:00AM

I was cold and wet on a recent kayak trip because I didn't dress right. That's because I didn't guess right.

I expected warmth and sunshine. Instead, the day was chilly with a dampness that went through my thin kayaking outfit.

Rain compounded the cold and my feet felt like they were encased in a tub of ice.

But kayaking is my "thing" and I can always enjoy being out on the water. Sometimes, beating the elements is part of the fun. So I paddled harder into the rain and soon the weather no longer bothered me. I was too busy enjoying the physical activity on which I thrive.

As we paddled south on a waterway in Central Florida, we rounded a bend in the river and suddenly it was like I was transported back in time to what we call "Old Florida." With no sign of civilization, it was so quiet and undisturbed that we didn't want to make a sound as we floated by wild turkeys, pheasant, deer and a Sandhill Crane and her babies.

Live oak trees dripping in Spanish moss lined the riverbank, creating a picture-perfect canopy. The glass-smooth surface of the water reflected that arch and the sky above, uniting sky and water as one.

As that tranquility filled me with pleasure, I breathed a deep, audible "Ahhhhhhhh."

"Ahhh" moments are sudden pleasures that make us feel good to be alive. They can be monumental, like the first time someone special looks into your eyes and says, "I love you."

Or, "ahhh" moments can be the simple pleasures of everyday life.

The rich smell of coffee while I am still snuggled in a warm bed and that first sip of coffee each morning are always "ahhh" moments for me.

I don't know about you, but I often breathe an appreciative "ahhh" the moment a hot shower spray hits my body. That's especially true when I'm cold, sandy or muddy from outdoor activities.

Every time I see a dolphin or a manatee, it's an "ahhh" moment. It doesn't matter how many times I've seen one before. The sight of a playful dolphin or gentle manatee is always pleasurable.

The same thing is true of every single sunrise and every sunset. No matter how many I see, the next one is always special.

I think a lot of people feel that way because when I'm with a crowd of people at sunset, one can hear a long, audible "ahhhhhhhh" at the peak moment when the sun sends off one last treat before it takes its leave for the day.

Nature often gives us the gift of an "ahhh" moment. On a recent field trip with our photo group, someone pointed out an owl's nest in a high tower. With binoculars or a long camera lens, we could see two baby great-horn owls. The first sight of those fuzzy heads was a long "ahhh" moment for many of us.

Another "ahhh" moment was created for those who were lucky enough to release the shutter just as the mother owl flew back to the nest. An inner "ahhh" comes when you see the perfect photo in your viewfinder and know you captured it.

I had another of those silent "ahhh" moments during a night of playing pinochle with friends. After mostly getting hands of nothing but Jacks and nines, when the dealer dealt me the last card I needed for a straight along with the bonus of an extra Ace, I had my "ahhh" moment. For me, little things mean a lot. Or, in this case, it meant 15 points.

After waiting a long time in a busy restaurant, when our pizza was finally delivered to our table, I had an "ahhh" moment as I enjoyed the first bite of hot, melted cheese over tomato sauce.

Eating an ice cream sundae, poking through the whipped cream to get to the warm fudge sauce, then enjoying the first taste of a decadent dessert can be an "ahhh" moment, if you savor the taste.

As you can note, many of my "ahhh" moments involve food. Maybe that's why a big "ahhh" moment for me is stepping on the scale and seeing that I lost another pound. Of course, it's one of the same few pounds I've been repeatedly putting on and taking off. But that's okay. Every victory with the scale is celebratory, even though I know it's a brief victory.

Elizabeth Berg, one of my favorite authors, said there are at least a thousand aspects of life that we do not, cannot, fully appreciate because there is only so much room inside and we are busy species.

Often, when I am reading one of her books, I have an "ahhh" moment when her words touch a chord in me. She knows how to capture the simple pleasures of life and serve them to us like a rich, delectable dessert.

In her book, "A Year of Pleasures," a dying husband asks his wife to promise she will seek out life's simple pleasures and relish at least one a day.

Eating a juicy peach, inhaling the sweet fragrance of lilac bushes, listening to rain while luxuriating in a warm bed, taking a lavender-scented bubblebath these are some of the pleasures he encouraged her to enjoy so she could live life fully instead of feeling only emptiness when he was gone.

In other words, he was telling her to do more than watch for life's "ahhh" moments. He was encouraging her to create more of those moments.

How many "ahhh" moments do you take time to enjoy each day?

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