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Small comforts equal rich life

Published October 29. 2011 09:01AM

A long while back, one of the best selling records (remember records?) was "Little Things Mean a Lot."

Decades later, as I savor each day of life, I realize how rewarding life is because of "little things."

It's often the small comforts we take for granted that we miss the most when we don't have them.

Go away on vacation for any length of time and you'll probably start missing the feel of your own bed. A comfortable bed is just one of life's small comforts.

I started thinking about other small comforts that add up to a pleasurable life. These are some of mine.

• That first cup of coffee in the morning. I like the way freshly brewed coffee smells. I actually think coffee smells better than it tastes. Nevertheless, I love that first sip in the morning.

• Driving my car. There were years when I felt harried because of all the trips I had to make in one day. Sometimes when I picked up my keys for yet another trip, I thought, "Not again."

There were times when I used to hope it would snow so high that I couldn't get the car out of the garage. Any parent on the chauffeuring circuit understands that feeling.

But now that those hectic years are over, I'm enjoying trips behind the wheel. We take for granted having a car and the freedom to drive. But I often find myself thanking God for that small comfort.

• Smelling the roses. The wise old axiom says, "Slow down and smell the roses." I believe in the wisdom of that. I also believe that taking the time to literally "smell roses" makes for a wonderful moment.

• Sitting quietly outside and listening to the night sounds. Sitting in or near the woods doubles the pleasure.

• The feeling I get when I glide through water in my kayak. You knew I had to get that one up at the top of my list, didn't you?

Last weekend I packed up my kayak for some peaceful time on the water. I realized that the total cost of that priceless experience was simply the gas to get there. But a few hours in a kayak is as restorative as a trip to a spa.

• The simple pleasure of a bubble bath. This "kid" will never grow too old to enjoy a good, old-fashioned bubble bath. I feel "rich" when I have my choice of more than one kind of bubble bath.

• A phone call from my daughters. When families are separated by miles, frequent phone calls keep us in touch with what's going on in each other's lives.

• I would also put carrying a cell phone under the category of "small comforts." Yes, it adds to one's monthly bills. But when you're doing a lot of traveling by yourself, it's definitely a small comfort to have that cell phone next to you, "just in case."

• Taking an early evening stroll through the neighborhood. Yes, I know I should walk briskly to get the beneficial aerobic effect. But I like the peace that comes with a leisurely stroll.

• Sitting on the porch with a friend. It's great for solitary pleasure and even better when I have a friend there.

• Reading a good book. Ask me for a recommendation of a "good book" and I'd be hard pressed to think of just one. For me, a good book is the one presently in hand.

On a related note, I have to put a trip to the library on my list of simple pleasures. From the time I was a kid, I've always loved going to the library. A good town library is a town's underrated treasure.

• A cold glass of water with a slice of lemon is another one of life's small comforts, both when I'm home and when I'm in a restaurant. When I'm on the road or walking, that small comfort changes to a cold bottle of water. What did we ever do before someone had the brainstorm to bottle water?

It's funny how I seem to need a bottle of water with me whenever I go somewhere. Ten years ago, most of us never carried bottled water. I don't ever remember taking tap water and putting it in the refrigerator to take along on a walk or drive. Do you?

• A visit from a friend is another simple pleasure. I love when friends just drop by for a visit.

A while back I read where one should always call first to make sure a visit is convenient. So I do that. But I still like the simple pleasure of having friends stop by.

• Listening to a chorus of birds or even just one solitary bird is a soothing pleasure that never grows old for me. Sunday night as I was rushing out the door for a concert in the park, I heard the birds chirping away and thought, "I'm missing one concert to go to another."

• An end of the day pleasure for me: Propping my feet up, closing my eyes and listening to soothing music.

I especially like those nature CDs with the sound of the surf in the background. When I can't sit in the front of the ocean, I can always bring the sound of the sea into my living room with the right CD.

Dan Gibson has made some pretty amazing nature recordings. I especially like listening to dolphins, loons, owls, wolves, seagulls and other wildlife interspersed with the sound of classical music.

• One of my absolute favorite simple pleasures: Lying on warm sand with my eyes closed while listening to the sounds around me. It's heaven.

Feeling the warmth of the sun, watching a butterfly land on a flower or seeing the twinkling of fireflies are pleasures that cost nothing.

It's impossible not to feel "rich" when we have all these simple pleasures.

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