Jewish World Review May 7, 2004/ 16 Iyar, 5764
As one grows older it is the smallest of pleasures that can make life, if not completely worthwhile, at least tolerable. Peeling off the shell of a hardboiled egg in only two or three sections is one such wonderfully satisfying pleasure.
Anyone who has had the miserable experience of chipping away miniscule fragments of an eggshell stubbornly clinging to the white of an egg can fully appreciate the accomplishment had in getting that shell off easily and quickly. In an increasingly disagreeable and impersonal world where one may feel a sense of losing in a million small ways throughout the day, getting an eggshell off in a couple of large hunks can be an enormously cathartic win for the good guys.
And speaking of winning - there are various degrees of winning. There are those who win the Pulitzer Prize or the Academy Award or the Heissman Trophy. Some have scaled the highest mountain peaks in the world. Many others have attained phenomenal success in business, politics, and science. As for me, the accomplishment of daily regularity trumps them all. You can't explain this to a 23 year old; this is a level of achievement that only we codgers can truly value. It can make your entire day.
Being able to actually put your hands on that "five dollars off" coupon for the cleaners before it expires is another small human victory and minor miracle. It's almost as good as having a major appliance break down BEFORE the warranty runs out (I'm still waiting for that one). Or actually finding your keys or glasses right away without marching through every room of the house seventeen times.
How does one put into words the simple joy of making every green light between home and wherever you happen to be driving to? Or the glee at having the exact change on you so you won't have to break a big bill and end up with a pocketful of coins. Having a good hair day can be a small pleasure. What about the pleasure of going to see a new movie and really enjoying it? The delight and surprise of getting your money's worth - in ANYTHING you pay for.
Little pleasures, like waking up in the morning without any aches or pains, can make a tremendous difference in one's attitude. Enjoying a small family get-together is a small pleasure, but one too frequently taken for granted. Holding a door open for someone who actually acknowledges it and thanks you with a smile for doing so, is a pleasure, abet a rare one. Getting home safe and sound after a long driving trip on our Southern California freeways is something I have come to be grateful for more and more as the drivers in my state get worse and worse.
The "young 'uns" just can't appreciate these little pleasures because, number one, they are totally consumed with obtaining the BIGGEST pleasures, i.e.; getting the best job in the world, finding the love of their life, buying the hottest car, having the wildest week-end, etc. Also, they are still na´ve enough to expect everything in life to go smoothly and right. Those of us who have put in our time, so to speak, know better - we know that disappointment, screw ups, and losses are what's normal and the jackpots are far and few between. When you've been around awhile you learn that when the bread falls, chances are the buttered side will hit the ground. That's just the way it is. It's not so much a pessimistic view as it is coming to terms with one of those harsh realities of life everybody keeps talking about.
But you can't blame young people for being na´ve. Youth is what it is - youth. Young people SHOULD be concerned with the bigger things, and they SHOULD be overly optimistic toward life. There is time enough to get the hard, cold facts later on - after they've "learned from experience," to use a trite but true maxim. We were all young once - looking for the big break, the big love, the big time. Sooner or later, if we're smart, we all wind up appreciating the little stuff. We discover it isn't so much the big time, but a lot of little times that can add up to fulfillment.
Ultimately, it is the small pleasures in life that get us through the day and can, somehow, make the rest of it all tolerable.
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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a
letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.
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© 2004 Greg Crosby