As Iris Murdoch noted, ‘One of the secrets of a happy life is a series of continuous small treats’. When I read that quote yesterday I immediately made a list of my own small treats:
A mug (no handles) with hot tea, milk and a little sugar; the warmth seeping through my hands into my body; Azaleas in bloom in the garden (right now); more Azaleas in bloom; Azaleas in bloom all day; seeing the moon in the sky; having left-overs to heat up for lunch; walking on beaches; choosing which beach to walk on today; able to stay in bed when a little sick (as now); personal emails from family and friends; books from the library; reserving library books for $2 each; picking said book up and settling in for a treat, an adventure, a mind-opening ride to anywhere; finding life’s movements aligned with my wishes (finding that more of the time); receiving and accepting invitations; moments when life opens as an invitation (not a battle to the top or a falling through the bottom); bird calls; first Jasmine flowers and scent in spring; a touch of sadness here and there; sitting in the dark with only candle light; other’s happiness; moon bathing; buying the deepest red Geraniums in a pot (when I find them); walking to my studio; entering and starting work (fiddling); seeing photos of my grandson; the freshness after a house clean/tidy; the smell of baking; a little cake with lots of cream; the bitter taste of dandelion tea; toast with butter, honey and tahini; words like ‘wild mushrooms’ (any foods that have the word wild in it); the words wilderness and heath; fresh sheets on my bed (high cotton count); any views of distant hills or mountains, wooded, or unwooded (preferably with snow on them); Nasturtiums everywhere; all flowers that appear out of the ground when the season comes upon them; walking through meadows in the village I come from (for real or imagined); wearing pj’s at 6.00 pm (unplugged completely); the sound of crickets on summer nights; the view of the moon through my bedroom window; sitting in bed writing this…… and best of all treats— friends and friendships.
The Iris Murdoch quote came from a book called ‘Still Life with Teapot – on Zen, writing and creativity’ by Brigid Lowry. She was inspired by the ‘Pillow Book’ which is a collection of essays, lists, anecdotes, poems and descriptive passages by Sei Shōnagan in Heian Japan in 990-1000AD. She was one of the court ladies to the Empress. Her now famous book of observations and musings have little connection to one another other than what the author was thinking in any given moment in her daily life.
Brigid has created a Pillow Book of these times about a woman my age. Hers is intimate, surprising and wherever her mind wanders or rests, I easily went along. It was like a pleasant amble through all sorts of terrains and filled with yummy, sweet, sour and bitter-sweet observations.
A friend gifted me this book, just like that (it wasn’t my birthday). Come to think of it, that is another delicious, small treat — being given gifts out of the blue.
I did enjoy the book very much or let’s say, it grew on me. My first reaction was, ‘too sweet’. Be aware of first impressions. I could start a list with ‘Be aware of…’.
Maybe next time.