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Little Things

I am a big fan of the Little Things. That’s not the name of a band that I’m aware of (although it probably should be and most likely is) but what I’m referring to is the Little Things in life as in the Little Things Mean So Much.

We all have Big Events in our lives – birthdays, weddings, vacations, promotions, the reaching of major milestones and goals – but those are expected to be important. Every so often something happens to take our breath away. Maybe it’s an unexpected kiss, or a compliment from someone we respect and admire. Maybe it’s a sunset so beautiful that you have to pull over to the side of the road to take time to admire it. Maybe it’s the stillness of the woods as you’re walking through that is so peaceful that you stop and just become a part of it for a little while.

Little Things can also be recurring. I have very vivid associations with certain smells, sights and sounds. I’m a falling water junkie; the sound of rainfall generally makes me feel peaceful, warm and secure, something no doubt garnered from all the nights I listened to the rain as a boy and young man from the comfort of my warm bed. I also love the sound of running water, as in fountains, streams and waterfalls. When I was growing up in Southern California in the Porter Ranch area there was a little creek that my sister and I and often our friends could walk to from my house; it was a little oasis of nature in the suburban conformity of the San Fernando Valley. There were several little waterfalls, and you could catch newts there. In the summertime, it was cool and we often waded into the water in our bare feet. You could walk what seemed a long way to us by following that creek.

The sound of a crackling fire also reminds me of home. My mother, father and now my sister have always enjoyed having a nice warm fire in the fireplace, particularly on chilly fall and winter evenings and on wet, rainy spring afternoons. Even today the popping and hissing noises that a fire makes can make me sleepy in a content sort of way. That’s one thing I miss in Florida; we don’t have a fireplace in our home and to be honest, there aren’t many nights when a fire would be appropriate. Da Queen, who also holds great affection for fireplaces as well, has made it abundantly clear that when we do eventually get House 2.0 in North Carolina (we aspire to retire to the Asheville area in the Blue Ridge mountains, a place that speaks to the both of us), there WILL BE A FIREPLACE IF YOU KNOW WHAT’S GOOD FOR YOU. Da Queen is not shy about speaking her mind.

The smell of cookies or bread baking in the oven is another thing that makes me happy. It isn’t just the promise of something wonderful to eat later, it’s the idea that someone cared enough to make something that they didn’t buy in the bread aisle of the grocery store, or come straight out of a box where it was made in a factory months before and is loaded with preservatives and such. Not that I have anything against the Keebler elves or the Nabisco gnomes but cookies that are fresh-baked simply have no competition. My wife no longer has the time or energy to do a lot of baking but when she does it means the world to me (and if any of my readers ever want to go straight to the top of my charts, they can just send me some cookies – this is a well-known fact).

Autumn is my favorite time of year. I make no bones about this and I look forward to it every year, particularly after the brutal summers of Central Florida. I like watching the first few weekends of football; not the pros, not even the major colleges but the smaller schools. The schools I attended were smaller and I relate more to the atmosphere at an Appalachian State game than I do to an Ohio State game, although there is certainly nothing wrong with the latter. The pros I don’t really care about anymore; I was once a San Francisco 49ers fan and cheered them on with my good friend Mike and his family and friends, but I grew disillusioned with all the hype of pro football and don’t follow it the way I once did, although I will admit to having been inspired by the Super Bowl win of the New Orleans Saints this past year.

I love the smell of leaves being burned, and that earthy smell that comes when leaves die and flutter to the ground. I love the smell of turkey in the oven on Thanksgiving Day, and the smell of chocolate in our Halloween Bowl on Halloween. I love the smell of the cinnamon potpourri and branches that we place throughout the house starting in October. I love the crisp cool nights and the taste of freshly-harvested apples picked up at a roadside stand in North Carolina, or the delicious cider that was just pressed.

One of my great joys in life is just taking a drive with my wife in our faithful but aging Honda Odyssey that we affectionately refer to as Harry (as in Harry the Honda). We like to go down roads we’ve never driven down and we are excessively fond of road trips and usually take a major three-to-four week trip every other year or so. Sure, we have destinations in mind and Da Queen meticulously plans for it, but it’s always the spontaneous moments where we decide to stop and check something out that remains with us. I have a great respect and love for history and we have a tendency  to stop at historical sites and homes whenever they are open to the public; I get a thrill walking in places that people have lived in for hundreds of years and touching the same things that someone touched a century before I was born. These are the kinds of things that give me a connection to time, understanding that I am part of something larger and more wonderful than I can even imagine, even if I am here only a short while. It is an immortality that we all share.

I am also a people person, and I love to hang out with friends and just talk about nothing in particular, sharing laughter, food and drink. Some of my fondest recollections in life have been in the company of friends, some of whom are still in my life, some not so much but all very much in my heart, even if we don’t chat as much as we once did. I also enjoy the conversations I have with my new online friends, and treasure them even if we’ve never met face to face; part of the joy of these friendships is the anticipation of meeting some of you somewhere down the road, either here in Orlando should you come for a visit, or on one of our many road trips if we pass through your town. Life is all about the people in it and the things that bring us the most comfort and joy are our family and friends after all; most of us on our deathbeds won’t be wishing we’d spent more time at work.

There are so many small, seemingly inconsequential things that at the same time bring us great joy. I’m sure everyone reading this has something in their lives – some sight, sound, smell or action – that they have done or continue to do that brings peace, joy, contentment or happiness…or all of the above. Even thinking about these things can bring a smile to our face and the warm fuzzies to our heart. Be it the first baseball game of the season, the smell of the ocean on a warm summer day, the taste of mom’s meatloaf, the sound of a favorite videogame loading onto your console or computer, a song that reminds you of your prom or simply the quiet moments spent with your loved ones, these are the moments that make our lives worth living, that give us the inspiration to keep living them.

Life is beautiful and is meant to be enjoyed. Sure, life can also suck big time and we all endure a measure of crap, be it due to failed relationships, career mishaps, illness and loss, financial issues or just general depression but we can overcome anything; that is our gift as humans. We are all entitled to a small measure of joy, even in the worst of times and if nothing else, I hope this reminds you of the joy you experience and will continue to for the rest of your days.

Lastly, one of the things that have brought me great joy in life has been the support of those who read my blogs, particularly on Facebook where I have received some wonderful feedback. To my readers, I thank you all humbly and wish you the joy and contentment that I took from writing this trip to some of my special places, and fervently wish that you’ll continue to share your joy with me. We’re friends, after all – so don’t be shy, drop by and say hello and maybe have a chat. It could be the beginning of another memory we’ll both treasure.


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