Ageism can kill

The small, enduring pleasures of getting older

category_bug_journal2.gif An unexpected bonus of getting older, I find, is discovering a deeper appreciation for ordinary things. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy them before. I did. But I was too busy being young (although that is well and good in its time) to pause long enough to savor the simple pleasures.

Is there anything better than waking in winter to the special hush new-fallen snow brings to the big city? It is different from silence. Listen carefully and you will find that the sound of the quiet can be heard, especially at dawn. It is irresistible then to bundle up in layers, pull on a fur hat and go out into the street just as the sky is turning from black to sapphire blue - and be the first on my block to make footprints, and even an angel, in the snow.

Laugh at me if you will, but I enjoy paying the bills. I like the feeling of being clean with the world, not owing anyone for a short while once every month. I’ve been doing it online for a long time now and modern electronics, relieving the tedium of physically writing checks and balancing accounts, makes the pleasure even greater.

And how about the dispensation that comes with stormy weekends. When there are thunder and lightning and raindrops as big as your fist, it is an ancient rule that you may skip running errands outside or taking care of indoor chores. Instead, you get to curl up with a good book and a cup of tea or two fingers of old port or good sipping whiskey - whatever suits your fancy - and while away the entire day while the rain beats a rhythm on the windows. The chores and errands will still be there when the weather clears.

The morning coffee ritual. No day is right without it. My Krups electric teakettle in which I boil the water is a triumph of modern design, so right in its black proportions for the eye and for the task that I believe it belongs in the Museum of Modern Art. Coffee itself from Porto Rico Coffee Company, a block from my home. I've been drinking strongly-flavored Auggie's Blend recently and have not felt the need to change yet, though I do so about twice a year. It would not taste quite so sublime, I believe, without my Bodum French press. It is a jewel of design too, and this particular example (may I never break it) has become more precious as the last purchase I made at the World Trade Center the last time I was there about a month before 11 September 2001.

And lastly, showers. Mmmm. Bubble baths are soothing and have their charms. But a hot shower – now that is sublime. Water beating hard on your body from high above, pouring over your head, your shoulders, setting up a rhythm on your back, and perhaps just a tad too hot so it becomes almost a meditation, a spiritual experience, maybe like returning to the beginning of life. Best of all, you get to do it every single day. How many pleasures can you say that about.

This list is short and by no means complete, and I am sure you have your own, different list of ordinary pleasures to hold as dear as precious gems. Youngsters can’t know these joys yet. Such gladness is the preserve of us older folks to whom appreciation is available only from years of practice and repetition.

What are some of your small, enduring pleasures?


Such poignancy you stir in me with your lovely (touche) descriptions of ordinary pleasures, Ronni. I especially savored your description of new snow in New York City -- yes, that silence is like no other, and I ache for it.

On the other side of the temperature divide is your depiction of hot showers. We don't have hot water in Sri Lanka, tepid is about as good as it gets -- except for the few times I have been in an upscale hotel. Cold showers have a certain bracing quality about them, but not really something to dawdle over.

An ordinary pleasure here of late I have been relishing is watching the amazing patterns of scillions of crows, reflecting sheens of purple-blacks and blue-greens, as they scramble among the swaying fronds of palm trees, especially when I can block out the screechings of their interminable squawkings -- absolutely mesmerizing . . .

This is going to sound weird...last year I severely injured my left shoulder. Only recently have I healed up from that. But there was a moment of truth in there somewhere when it seemed to me that the pain in my shoulder was precious. I was alive and could feel it. My mother, now deceased, would never again experience this kind of pain, never again any kind of pain.

The cat crawls up next to me in my favorite chair in the evenings and curls up purring. The combination of soft warm fur and rumbling hum always brings peace.

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