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Finding Joy in the 'Not-So-Simple'
Lately I have been thinking about the joy we find in simple things.
Why? I have no idea. Maybe it’s part of getting a few miles on the ol’ odometer, also known as getting your AARP card. Maybe I’m just trying to get a jump on Thanksgiving. Whatever the reason, I’ve started putting together a list of simple things that have brought me great joy in the last week or so. Here it is:
* New socks.
* Running through the gears on a manual transmission.
That’s it. It’s a short list, but remember, I just got started. Besides, even as I was putting it together I noticed things aren’t always as simple as they first seem.
For example, I love putting on a brand-new pair of socks. Except, of course, they have to be laundered before you put them on, because (as my germ-phobic mother taught) you never know what kind of cooties they might pick up hanging on a rack in a department store. Of course, this raises a question: Are socks new after you’ve laundered them, or does that wash away the newness? I say they remain new until you wear them, but they can only be new for one wearing. See? It’s complicated.
Soup can be complicated, too. It’s a rainy evening when you see the shadow of winter looming over the landscape. “Ah,” you think, “what would be better than a simple bowl of soup and a hunk of fresh bread?” But you don’t like soup from a can and all the bread in the house is gummy sandwich bread, so you have to make the soup and bread first. You’ll start with a nice, big chicken and some fresh vegetables to make the broth. Then you’ll have to remove the chicken from the bones, strain the broth, chop some more vegetables, add the other ingredients and seasonings, and then let it simmer. While all that’s going on, you’ll also need to mix together the bread dough, knead it, let it rise, punch it down, let it rise again, punch it down again, form it into a loaf, let it rise again, and bake it. And when it’s all done, you’re so tired of fooling with it that you just make a bologna sandwich instead. It takes a lot of work to make a simple supper.
And as for running through the gears – well, I find that immensely satisfying. I suppose it’s a guy thing. Actually, I do think manual transmissions make for better drivers, because they require a level of involvement that isn’t necessary with an automatic. There’s no dialing a cell phone while you’re shifting. Of course, you have to remember not to kill the engine coming away from the stop light, and you have to remember to double-clutch going into third. Stopping on a steep uphill grade can be kind of tricky, or at least scary for the car behind you. Oh, and don’t ride the clutch. Or bark the tires. But other than that, it’s a breeze.
So simple things aren’t always as simple as they seem. But you know what? That doesn’t make them any less of a joy.
And now, I think I shall work on my list some more – to continue looking for joy in the seemingly simple things around me. I already have some nominees. I think I’ll add leaves (which need raked, in my yard anyway), dogs (especially mine, who has been pestering me for a walk), and naps. No explanation necessary on that last one.
© 2007 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.
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