WOMAN ON THE VERGE: In pursuit of life’s simple pleasures

May 31st, 2022 6:25 PM

By Emma Connolly

Angela Scanlon makes no secret of trying every fad out there in her search for joy; but as I’m a simple soul, I find the more simple things work best for me.

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You can keep your crystals, yoga at dawn and meditation, this simple creature has found some simple ways to find everyday joy. Not every day, though! Who’d have the time?

• I GOT myself a copy of Angela Scanlon’s new book Joyrider (with the very enticing strapline: ‘How gratitude can help you get the life you really want’). Actually I had it on pre-order from months back, and had completely forgotten about it when it arrived in the post box during the week. So, to be honest it has not brought me the instant hit of joy that I’d hoped it might, and there-in sort of lies my issue – that I think I can outsource the quest for joy to someone else when it’s every man/woman/dog for him/herself. Having said that, it’s a most enjoyable read where Angela goes through what has and hasn’t worked for her, which in turn prompted me to compile my own list of super-simple (because that sums me up best) things that make me happy. There’s no burning of sage or crystals involved I promise ….

• Here goes: the first coffee of the day. Or more specifically the first sip of the first coffee. It doesn’t matter how many cups I have after that, nothing compares. Sometimes I start looking forward to the first sip before I even go to bed (which I’ve just realised is probably a bit strange). And sometimes I feel a bit sad after I’ve had the first sip because I have to wait a whole 24 hours to savour it again. Over the years I’ve had all the coffee paraphernalia from the plunger, to the Aero Press (a big let-down I thought), to the stovetop pot. Been there, bought them all. One of the first things we invested in when we were building our house was a coffee machine (before we even had a kitchen!), and it’s probably what I’d grab if the place was on fire (obviously after the family was safe). So, yes, coffee brings me a lot of joy.

• Keeping things simple, I’m going next with a slice of toast, with the coffee. For years I denied myself this pleasure on the premise that bread was ‘bad.’ Thankfully I’ve more sense now and I love nothing more than starting the day with a single slice, with real butter (nothing else is allowed in my fridge), and a light spread of marmalade, with Brian Dobson in the background. I think that’s when I knew I was a proper grown up, when I started liking marmalade. I recently had a food allergy test, which showed up that I was gluten intolerant (not allergic) but to be honest, my slice of toast is not a pleasure I’m about to sacrifice. It doesn’t have to be any fancy pants sourdough, either. In fact a common sliced pan makes the more superior tasting toast, in my opinion.

• Staying with a morning theme, the way a kid looks when they wake up in the morning is something that would melt a heart of stone. The fuzzy hair, the sleepy, squinty eyes and sort of half-confused way they launch straight into a conversation that has come out of no place. It’s obviously less joyful if they’ve kept you up half the night, or if they’re interrupting your coffee, but it’s still a split second of joy up for grabs.

• The same with a dog. If they’re snoozing and can’t be bothered to get up when you walk by or come into a room but yet they still manage to wag their tail. If it hits off the floor or a chair and makes a noise, even better. That lifts me every time. Or when they nudge you with their head to pet them. My heart fills up. This happens too when the puppy finds a different place to poop that isn’t the patio (where there’s a 98% chance of someone walking in it, possibly himself, and bringing it inside. Ain’t nothing joyful about that).

• Technology, when it goes my way, brings me untold joy. Specifically if a Zoom meeting I’ve organised goes to plan, and everyone can hear me and see me (preferably at the same time), that will put my joy through the roof. Sometimes I forget to even listen to what people are saying after that as I’m so distracted by my joy and the relief that I may not have a stroke after all from the stress of it.

• Winning something, anything at all, moves me right up the joy scale. That could be €5 on a scratch card or a box of USA biscuits in a festival raffle. The pleasure it brings is totally unrelated to the prize. It’s the same if I happen upon a forgotten €10 or a lip gloss I’d long since given up looking for in a coat pocket. That always brings a real rush.

• Getting a parking space within a 10 minute walk of where I’m going to makes me very happy. Parking is one of the lifeskills I’ve never quite mastered and I need the equivalent of a runway to install my wagon. I’m half afraid that there are videos of me trying to parallel park out there on YouTube. You know the ones where some smart ass is recording you from inside a window as you’re over and back five million times trying to squeeze in? My dad was insanely good at parking, with nerves of steel and would pass any number of perfectly good parking spots, until we were literally right at our destination. The fact that he had a loose understanding of ‘no parking’ and ‘absolutely no parking at any time’ signs went against him a bit, but still it’s a skill I wish I’d inherited.

• Here’s one that everybody loves: turning on the radio or switching stations in the car to find your favourite song is on. Even better if it’s only just starting. Boom! I know you can listen to any song you want, at any time online, but it’s the pure chance factor that I love. Happened to me the other day with one of my all-time favourite songs Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel and right in that moment it felt like everything was going to be ok.

• And a few more in no particular order for the road: melted cheese, seeing calves being let into a field for the first time, Schitt’s Creek (any episode), when you discover a forgotten home-made Shepherd’s Pie in the freezer and getting or giving a (genuine) compliment. Told you there wouldn’t be any sage burning … or maybe I should give it a go?

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