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Simple Enough

Jul
9
2008

This week I retrieved a small metal box from our “slated for the yard sale” bin. It had an attached lid and was decorated with a Christmas motif. I think I paid a dime for it at a craft store clearance and gave Heir 2 his homemade Christmas candy in it.
So I bought myself a small spray can of sour apple green paint to obliterate the holiday theme and used leftovers from another project to paint cherries on it. I did this over the course of a few days, in between other tasks, a little creative respite while I hammered away at the necessary daily tasks. Now I bring the tin with me to carry my coupons when I go grocery shopping.
No, you haven’t stumbled upon a craft column. But I would like to point out how extremely happy the entire process and its end result made me. For one thing, for the first time in a long time coupons were available that we could actually use, as opposed to pre-prepared and junk foods that are usually featured.
Not only that, but the color made me happy, especially spraying it on (Heir 1 suggested the fumes may have had something to do with my delight) and the cherries made me feel artistic. So when I pass by my coupon tin and I can’t help but smile, even though I just know the Heirs are secretly plotting my committal.
“Simple pleasures” is the term lifestyle magazines use. But I have a hard time listening to a $7.95 magazine talk about “frugal fancies.”
We tend to think of simple pleasures as the little stuff we get to enjoy until the big payoff comes along. The butterfly flitting among the petunias may get us through the day, but July better see us sipping a margarita on the beach if we’re going to be expected to put up with the rest of the detritus that comes with life. Cool sheets and a soft bed at the end of a day spent doing back breaking yard work is swell for now, but that impressive job with the hefty income is just around the corner too – right?
There’s always something around the corner: the special job, the perfect figure, the ideal mate, living “there” instead of “here.” There is always something to achieve or somewhere to be or something to have that will make it all come together and then, then, we will finally be happy.
I can’t argue that those big payoff moments are heady. Television would have you think that life is one adrenaline rush after another and it’s a handy tool for a vicarious hit. But the reality is that most of life is pretty mundane. If you are counting on those big payoff adrenaline rushes for your happiness, you are going to spend 95 percent or more of your life in a state of anticipation or disappointment.
I was driving home around dusk the other evening, taking my usual long way home over the back roads. Here in the Shenandoah Valley it’s been hot and humid during the day broken with severe thunderstorms in the late afternoon. On this particular day, though, the temperature also plummeted by 20 degrees in a short period of time, causing ground fog in low-lying areas. As I topped one of the foothills I emerged from that fog to see what looked to be a sea of mist dotted with tiny islands leading to the huge mountain in the distance. I pulled over immediately and watched for awhile as earth and air temperatures merged and the fog dissipated, leaving me with the familiar sight of the foothills leading to the elderly Blue Ridge Mountains.
Three or four cars passed and their passengers were staring, not at the incredible panorama before them, but at me. Off they sped, probably on their way to buy a framed picture of the foothills of the Blue Ridge awash in mist.
For me the chances of there being anymore big payoff adrenaline rushes are pretty slim. Oh, I don’t discount them and it’s not that I’ve become jaded either. I would welcome a windfall from the lottery (if I played) or Heir 2 getting into MIT on a full scholarship or for the housing glut to be over and Dirtman working at full throttle.
But today I found a $1 coupon for 8 O’Clock Coffee Beans and throw-away petunia plants for the front planters and last night Dirtman and I counted 15 rabbits at one time nibbling on clover in the back yard.
It truly is enough.

Share  Posted by Jeanne Jackson at 9:34 AM | Permalink

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