16 November 2015

Small Pleasures, from Andy Rooney

From our Articles and Excerpts pages:

It's too bad all of us don't have some way to remind ourselves how good life is when life is going well.  We are more apt to think of it as merely average and normal.

When I was fifteen, I had an appendectomy.  There was some minor complication, and I was in the hospital for almost three weeks.  (It's always surprising how serious a minor operation seems when you're the one who has had it.)  But I recall then appreciating the colors and the action of everyday life when I got out of the hospital.  My perception of many things I had always taken for granted was razor sharp.  The grass looked greener, our house looked better and my mother's cooking tasted great.

The fact is, any time we or someone we love isn't dying, it should be considered a great time in life.

Just now, in the course of writing this, I was trying to remind myself of small pleasures I enjoy almost daily:

--My shower first thing in the morning is a wonderfully pleasant and exhilarating way to start the day.  I like the warmth, I like a good cake of soap, and I like the idea that I'm part of a civilization that has organized itself to get water to my house and have it warm and waiting for me when I get up.  It's difficult to remember to be amazed every day, but it is amazing.
--The morning newspaper and that first cup of coffee are two things I'm sure they have in heaven if there is one.  I always pick up my newspaper with a great sense of anticipation.  I'm a newspaper nut.  There are times when I don't find much in it that interests me, but that never changes my enthusiasm for getting at it again the following day.

--I love my work.  I love writing.  I even like the physical process of hitting the keys of the typewriter with my fingers, although I only use three of them.  I enjoy thinking of things to write, and there is always a vague sense of excitement about whether I can do it or not; this heightens my interest.  And to finish a piece of writing is a great satisfaction.  It's as good as getting a sliver out of your finger.

--By noon I'm getting hungry and feeling desk-bound.  I know a hundred good little restaurants, and it is a wonderfully civilized pleasure to find a friend and go to one of them for lunch.

--In the afternoon I'm not nearly so smart as I am in the shower eight hours earlier, but if I'm not pressed to do something for a deadline, I'm just as happy.  It's pleasant to browse through the mail and the debris on my desk, looking for a job easy enough for my brain to handle at that hour.  Perhaps I call one of my four kids working in Boston, Washington, New York, and Providence.

--By late afternoon I can't wait to get home--the same home I couldn't wait to leave that morning.  It's a pleasant place.  My wife is glad to see me, I'm glad to see her, and we sit down and have a drink while we watch the evening news on television.

--On Saturdays I have fresh orange juice, one of the great luxuries of my life.  As I sit there sipping it, I think how lucky I am to be able to make enough money to squeeze three oranges for a drink.  After a great time with coffee, toast, and the newspaper, I go down to my cellar filled with tools and good wood.  I've had some of the pieces of wood for twenty years.  I sit and consider for the hundredth time what I might make of a wide piece of walnut.  I feel it and enjoy it and decide to save it.

I am not sick or dying at all right now, and I'm determined to remind myself how good life is.


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