Yesterday I bought some shoelaces for my aging sneakers. Okay, the sneakers aren’t “old”, but certainly have been through lots of mud and leaves during several months of taking Shadow for her walks. The new laces gave me a chance to appreciate their service and the joy of re-lacing the shoes. The act of re-lacing is a time to reflect on how such a little thing as new laces can brighten the day. The new laces are a bright white and helped me appreciate how well the old laces, now stretched and broken, had performed. Stringing new laces is a delightful tactile experience, letting the fingers explore the shoe and sense how the laces intertwine; this evolves into an introspective assessment of trips with the shoes and how we rely daily on such minor parts of our world. A small accomplishment in my day, sitting on the stairs and repairing two sneakers, yet filling me with a feeling of contentment. All from a pair of new shoelaces.
Irrelevant? Trivial? No, not at all. It is the little things that fill our days; our lives are enriched by embracing every little opportunity to find ourselves and to be part of our surroundings. We have evolved to a point where we tend to respect only what has financial value, such as a new car or TV, but it wasn’t always thus. Our great-grandparents put value on what they needed and on what brought them pleasure. That may have been the process of sharpening a blade or listening to a song from one’s child. Our memories in life are always of the little things. A trip to a thrift or consignment store to browse and perhaps purchase a small item will bring memories every time you wear it. Stop into an ice cream shop and experience a delicious flavor, such as Black Raspberry, and the memory will stay for months. That new car? You will remember the day you bought it and the day you sold it. There will be pleasurable memories, but they will be from little things, not from the car itself.
Another of my little joys is acquiring a new (to me) paperback book. Yes, another tactile experience, but a new book to read opens windows upon windows of new ideas and experiences that may last for years. I respect that many people today prefer electronic books, but paper books still bring me a high. Books fit into the category of “little things”, the little things that touch our lives.
One of my earliest introductions to the little things was shortly after my marriage to Linda. Wanting to appear romantic, I ordered flowers from florists on key dates, such as Valentines Day and her birthday. I thought I was impressing her, but she informed me that she would rather receive some hand-picked wildflowers from me than a fancy bouquet from a stranger who is delivering from a florist. I also discovered that flowers are more appreciated when received for no reason at all.
Recently, while talking with our son, he commented on how he used to jump on me when I came home from work each night when he was very young. His daily “attack” was a regular event for us and I hadn’t realized that this little memory brought pleasure to him, a reminder of a happy childhood. With our children, only they get to define the little things; our best approach is to spend lots of unstructured time with them to provide the opportunities for them to capture their memories.
Finding joy in our lives does not require spending money; in fact, true joy is usually in the absence of needing to pay for an experience. Sitting on the porch and watching the sun set, going for an evening walk with your special someone, or simply picking blackberries in a wooded area will each provide memories and self-growth. Remember, life is short.