Where We Live: Looking for little pleasures
By Lisa Price
When the new year began, I thought to list the usual goals I fail to keep each year, such as eat a better diet and stop wasting time dreaming on RV Trader. Instead I thought of a book I’ve loved, called “The Year of Pleasures” by Elizabeth Berg.
In the novel, a widowed woman moves to a small town after the death of her husband, and she is determined to find pleasure in her simple daily routines. This is how the author describes the book: “When Betta Nolan’s husband, John, dies, she honors a promise she made to him to sell their house, drive across the country until she finds a town she likes, and move there. This is a novel about starting life over, and purposely enriching that life with the many pleasures, especially the small and free ones, that are always available to us.”
I thought in lieu of the usual, blah-blah-blah New Year’s resolutions, I would try my own Year of Pleasures. We all get so busy. But I thought to do one thing that brought me happiness every single day — not something I did for myself, but something I did for somebody else.
Sometimes it was as simple as mailing a card to a neighbor with a health issues, to a friend who got a new job, to someone who deserved a thank-you note. I donated furniture and clothes to the Salvation Army, left presents for the trash guys. Found an ancient tool in my old house basement, mailed it to a friend in West Virginia, a skilled craftsman who has every tool known to man — but not that one.
I lost my oldest dog at 16 years old in January and sent a card to my veterinarian’s office thanking them for the excellent care they gave him all his life, including saving his life when he was 12. On a windy cold day, I pumped gas for an 80-something woman at Turkey Hill in Hometown. In a restaurant, I stopped by a table and complimented a young mom on her three well-behaved children.
I delivered furniture and bedding to the Ashland fire victims, helped a friend pack up and empty his business. I plowed out a couple good neighbors during the winter storms, took care of a friend’s dogs and homing pigeons when he was away. On Valentine’s Day, my dog “gave” flowers and chocolates to her biscuit-providing friends at the bank drive-thru window.
One thing I really enjoyed was going through pictures, uploading them to Walmart, and then sending them to people. I train pointing dogs, and there were many times I got pictures of other people’s dogs and sent them by text. It was fun to choose the best ones and have them made into a collage of pictures, ready to be framed.
By far the most rewarding thing I did was giving away a mattress and bed frame to a woman who had left her husband and been housed for safety in an apartment. I remember lugging the mattress up three flights of stairs and thinking, “Why am I doing this,” and then I saw the apartment. There was not one thing in it. She had slept on the floor the previous evening.
This is important to know. I’m not relating these things to be bragging. I’m just saying that we all have a tendency to become self-absorbed in our own lives. We’re so scheduled that we don’t have time to be “purposely enriching that life with the many pleasures, especially the small and free ones, that are always available to us,” as Berg said about her novel.
I’m relating these things to say, keep an eye out for these opportunities. Our daily routines can be mind-numbing, but if you start looking for nice things to do for people, doing so will quickly become a habit. These pleasures are small and free; the riches that ensue, large.