Sitting at my computer yesterday morning, some movement in the sky drew my attention and I had a revelation: I have always stopped what I’m doing to watch seagulls when they appear.
Yes, I know they are scavengers, rats with wings. But they are also, like eggs, among nature’s more perfect shapes. Particularly when they are soaring, the proportion of canted wings to their body is as esthetically pleasing as a fine piece of music.
For as long as I can remember, for most of my 67 years, seagulls have evoked in me a deep, personal satisfaction, and I wondered what else I may have enjoyed all my life, perhaps without appreciating the regular, reliable pleasure they supply even or, perhaps particularly, when life is not going well.
Don’t laugh, but peanut butter sandwiches come immediately to mind. Slathered on bread that is about halfway between Wonderbread and heavy, seven-grain organic, with (this part disgusts some people) mayonnaise – always Hellman’s (Best Foods to those of you on the west coast), it may be my favorite food. Sometimes, slices of cucumber cold from the refrigerator are a nice, crunchy addition, a counterpoint to the peanut butter’s sticky-sweet smoothness.
Silk undies. There was a rumor, back in 1987, that Robert DeNiro, in preparing for his role as Al Capone in The Untouchables, wore the same silk underwear the real-life Capone had specially made for himself. I understood.
My first pair were a gift when I was about 20 years old, and I swore after the first wearing that I would forevermore own only silk panties. Well, that was never in my budget; they are wildly expensive. But there is usually one pair in the drawer awaiting my pleasure on the next wearing.
Here’s another “don’t laugh”: the monthly satisfaction after having just paid all the bills. Twelve times a year, I get to feel renewed, up to date and balanced with the world. Even when it cleans out the bank account, there is nothing hanging over my head for awhile, and I feel unburdened.
And the cat. All cats. Big ones, little ones, wild ones and tame – if any cat can be called tame. Like seagulls and eggs, they are near perfect, not so much in shape, perhaps, as in their utter self-assurance, certain of their importance and place in the world, oblivious to others’ judgment or even interest. That they are soft and cuddly (when they are in the mood) doesn’t hurt.
It is easy to take pleasure in the bigger events – marriage, a new job, an award maybe, a birthday party, a grandchild. But it felt good to make a list of the less exciting but recurring satisfactions that I never tire of and provide a continuity through the decades. What about you?