Smelling roses

| Forum Editor

It’s trite but true: small pleasures are really what make life worth living. Sure, the big stuff is good too. We all want success and sex. We all need our soulmates and best friends and intellectual awakenings. But I think it’s when you learn to operate on the small-scale that you become the master of your own happiness. Especially in an environment like Wash. U., where you can get sucked into the routine and squished by the pressure, you have to sit under a tree now and then to not get lost in the forest. You have to appreciate the small stuff to feel like you’ve got it all.

I’ve experienced a lot of big happiness in my years here, but it’s been the fight for small, everyday pleasures that has kept me sane. I think there’s a lot to be said for the little things that give you comfort or make you laugh. For my part, I’d like to extend a deep and sincere ‘thank you’ to the Wash. U. squirrels for never failing to bring comedy to my daily march to class. I’d say at least twice a week I’m laughing like an idiot over a squirrel. Like today, a squirrel stared me down with about a thousand yellow leaves crammed in its mouth. Maybe I’m sleep deprived, but it was hilarious. In the spirit of honoring mini-pleasures—no matter how lame—I’d say that squirrels, whether bounding up stairs in front of me or peering at me out of trash cans, have their own small impact on the quality of my day.

And now that I’m trudging my way toward Thanksgiving (why does every assignment need to be due either two days before or one day after break?) I’d like to give a shout out to a small thing that makes this holiday just a little bit better: my grandma’s Moldy Salad. Okay, I know it sounds disgusting, but let me explain. Ever since I can remember my grandmother has served her Moldy Salad at Thanksgiving. Basically she puts Jell-O, Cool Whip, cherries and pineapple into a mold and freezes it. The end result: icy-cold slices of cherry-purple-creamy Cool Whip with imbedded chunks of frozen fruit. It’s delicious, and it’s tradition. I can’t imagine Thanksgiving without it.

Yes, you cynics, I do take pleasure in many other things beyond rodents and Jell-O salads. Recently I’m a big fan of graham crackers and anything with feather down (I have a pair of ‘foot duvets’ that keep my feet so damn warm). And then there are super colorful skies and those occasional warm days in winter. (Why do you toy with my emotions, St. Louis?)

I’ve gotten in the habit of encouraging myself to look around and appreciate those kinds of things. Lately I’ve been walking around with my little camera, taking pictures when I think something is beautiful. This may be a totally obnoxious, pretentious phase brought on by a quarter-life crisis, but I really do want to heighten my human experience. I don’t think life ever makes things easy. You have to work for your relationships, work for a living, work to be better and wiser and stronger. And you also have to work to appreciate the pebbles among the boulders. I think there’s something empowering in recognizing and finding your own small, sometimes frozen chunks of happiness. Happy Thanksgiving.

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