Editorial Notebook

Simple pleasures calm the mind

Small adventures make the daily grind bearable, week to week

It’s the little things. The faint scent of fresh laundry. The first bite of a perfectly constructed sandwich. Sure, this semester may have been endless nights of studying, but for me, it’s these small pleasures that keep me running day to day. I find that the way that American culture has evolved prevents people from stepping aside and appreciating those minute things that add detail to our monotonous lives. We always feel the need to be doing something—to fill all our time with productivity—otherwise we’re wasting precious time. But I’m saying that we don’t have to.

Earlier this semester, my days were packed. I didn’t have free time at all; I was being crushed under the amount of work I’d been putting into my classes and club activities. I’d forgotten what it was like to take a step back and notice those things I had been taking for granted, those day-to-day small things that kept my body functioning. Those unique treasures I notice that release dopamine in my brain. The same feeling I get when I run and when I get chills from listening to music. These personal moments are what make life colorful. Let me paint you a picture.

It’s a chilly fall morning. Vibrant oak leaves litter the grass, scurrying in the wind like a furry, cute pack of rabbits. You wake up. 10 am, Wednesday. Ugh, you have that dreaded class today. For no reason at all, we’ll call it Organic Chemistry I. You hop out of your bed and jump into the warm, welcome refuge that is the shower. Your back turned towards the shower head, you think to yourself, “Just another minute… I don’t want to go to class today…” Half an hour later, you briskly dry yourself off and stumble over to the sink. After taking care of other morning duties, you finally put on your soft pea coat and step outside. Autumn’s cool fingers gently brush across your exposed face. You take in a deep breath. For just a moment, you lose yourself. Time freezes. Responsibilities, the sights and sounds of O Chem, fade away as you imagine yourself whisked away in the crisp, fall breeze. Your body experiences complete euphoria, while your mind gently floats through the clouds in the azure skies above. You exhale. Slowly, you come back to your earthly self. Huh, that was weird; you don’t remember closing your eyes. You look around, past your silvery, smoky breath, and realize that somehow, you’re better; you can make it through the day. You’re at peace.

This image I’ve depicted isn’t actually a true story (I don’t own a pea coat, though I wish I did), but close to one. I don’t do this every Wednesday, but I try to. During stressful weeks, I try to step back, and relax and enjoy moments like these. They make what I’ve been working on significant. It’s a much needed change of pace from the constant stream of information and obligations everyone is responsible for. The small things, they’re what makes life enjoyable and bearable.

Studying hard to earn that ‘A’ on that test or working all night to do well on that project is important; it’s what you’re here for. But, if you ever forget for a second to stop and smell the roses, well, my friend, you aren’t living life. It’s all about the little things.