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There are times when I find myself feeling sorry for myself because of all the things I don't have or want to do that I don't have and am not doing. Then I get a little down and convince myself that time is running out and I will probably never have them and never do them. Ultimately, I end up feeling even more sorry for my tragic, little self.
This way of thinking is not only a waste of time, but utterly pointless in a way that is both self-indulgent and unhealthy and I abhor it, particularly in myself. That is when I drag out what I call my “Feel Good” List, a compilation of some of the small things in life that are not only good, but also give and have given me the most pleasure, satisfaction, and less boo-hooey sense of self. This time, I had my son, Chuck, help me out by starting his own list and hopefully, thereby adding to mine. I hope you don't mind if I share some of the things on it.
One of the first items I ever put on my list was really great childhood memories. Sadly, not everyone has them and some have more or less than others, but the good ones that are so vivid it feels as if they happened yesterday are the best. Happy times with my brothers are good, as are the small adventures we shared growing up. Christmases are always nice; the way it felt when my older brother came and awoke us in the still, dark of the early morning so we could all silently, and in an extreme state of anticipation and excitement, creep into the living room and grope our way on hands and knees to the base of the tree and all the wonders it sheltered.
Also on my list is the way it feels when I come home. Whether it is from a long day at work, a trip, a particularly rigorous hike, or the terror of a commute in a snowstorm, the way it feels to walk through my door and be in my private world is wonderful. Being in my house during a really bad thunder and lightning storm is good, too. I have often thought how awful it must have been to be a Neanderthal out and about and alone during a really bad storm. It must have been terrifying to hide in some cave or crouch under some rock, having no idea whatsoever what was happening or why and lacking the companionship of another Neanderthal. Even when you know exactly what they are and you are tucked up nicely in your own home thunderstorms can be violent, loud, and crazy. It is always nice to have someone who cares about you with you when nature goes ballistic.
Nature, of course, figures largely in many of the items on my Feel Good List because I am such a fan. The way it feels when you work hard and climb to the peak of any mountain, no matter how small is awesome. A mind-blowingly beautiful sunrise or sunset is a source of great life-affirming solace to me and to be out in the natural world on a perfect summer day is glorious. The power of nature to heal the spirit and quiet the mind is amazing. Better than therapy and a lot cheaper.
Coming indoors from the frigid cold to a hot cup of tea rates high on my list, especially if someone is waiting for me and puts it into my cold hands. It is such a comforting thing to be cared for in small ways and the tea never fails to warm both my body and heart. The little things like that, which are small demonstrations of the care and thoughts of another are always the best. Better than big gifts or surprise parties or extravagant emotions to me.
Chuck used some of the things on my list and added some of this own. He said that one of the best feelings in the world to him growing up was the way it felt when he came home from school or playing to find me there. For those of us who grew up in a time when mothers were home all the time it may be something we took for granted. For modern children it can be a very great pleasure to walk into their house and know their mothers are there and perhaps be greeted with the added joy of something good cooking on the stove. To Chuck, it rated very high on his good feelings list. He also listed the way it feels when he is bone weary and finally crawls into the soft embrace of his bed. He's right, that's a good feeling.
When we were reading our lists to each other we found that we shared more than a few items, with one that was particularly small and obscure. We both love the way it makes us feel when we awaken during the night almost too warm and turn our pillows over to the cool side. To us, there is nothing lovelier than pressing our burning cheeks to the delicious, silky comfort of a cool pillow. The fact that it makes us both sigh with pleasure made us laugh, and shared laughter may be one of the best small pleasures of all.
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