Somewhere along the way I learned to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. These include, but are not limited to: sharing good conversation with friends in a restaurant, sitting in a coffee shop on a chilly afternoon, gazing out a window, enjoying a glass of wine after a busy day, scratching a cat behind the ears, and sleeping late on the weekends.
I am the type of quiet person who does not like change and my simple pleasures reflect this. I get into my routine and I'm happy there (Coffee is at mid-morning, about 10:30 AM). I do enjoy new experiences, but don't bring them at me too quickly (I bought a sports car in 1999 and then a small plane in 2002 and I still have them today). I enjoy seeing new places, but getting there is such a bother (I went to San Francisco once in the late 70s and then again in 2008). I should try different items from the menu at my favorite restaurant, but many times I just order my favorite dish (I liked the greek pizza last time so I'll probably enjoy it again).
I suppose one of the reasons I have such affection for cats is that they are also creatures of habit and they are natural experts at simple pleasures. Oscar will spend a good portion of each day staring out the window, Ginger will absorb any amount of scratches and ear rubbing, and all of them will nap for hours. Zoey seems to indulge in sleep the most, but Ginger and Oscar are very good at it, too. Their lives are so filled with these simple pleasures that I wonder if they ever get weary of it. There is a risk of dissatisfaction in too much of a good thing, but many of us would like to sample the life of luxury they enjoy.
While I am a creature of habit, that is not to say that I don't take risks and try new things. In my life I've devoured many different hobbies including swing and salsa dancing, aerobatic flying, guitar, writing, video production, theater, and simple music composition. I've also enjoyed building a wide variety of things from model airplanes when I was a kid to sets and costumes for my videos now that I am an adult but still a kid. I've been on a horse, a pair of skis, and one of those old-timey bicycles with the BIG wheel in the front and the small wheel in the back. I've been in a helicopter and a Ford Model T, and though I've never ridden in a balloon I will someday.
While many of these hobbies are involved and difficult, they often have simple elements buried in amongst the noise and the drama. Take flying for instance. This is perhaps one of the most complex activities that humans can do. Indeed we were not meant to fly, and doing so requires tremendous ingenuity, time, resources, and money. I am incredibly lucky to be able to fly for the simple joy of flying, and while I'm up there I am aware of both the power and quiet of the experience. I'm busy with the task of operating the plane, but I also feel a sense of calm when I'm suspended motionless high above the world. If you are crammed into a large metal tube with strangers, this motionless suspense can be tedious. If you are alone in a small red biplane on a summer evening it is bliss.
So many simple pleasures work nicely alone, but some are best shared with friends. Girl watching is a perfect example. Eldon is a good friend who shares my enthusiasm for this fine sport. Turns out we are actually somewhat unlikely friends as he is a Mennonite Pastor and I am agnostic and our lives are different in many respects. But on the other hand we share similar philosophical views and opinions, we both love good coffee and good food, and we both love to admire the ladies from afar. He and I make a regular habit of visiting a number of coffee shops and restaurants around town and secretly checking out the ladies therein. Without shame we combine the simple pleasures of food, conversation, and female visual splendor wherever they may be found.
Eldon and I have developed a secret code whereby one of us can alert the other to the presence of a lady in our midst. It is similar to the code that military pilots use to indicate the position of other aircraft relative to themselves. You may recall movies where one pilot calls out on radio to the others, "bogeys, twelve o'clock high." This would indicate the location of other aircraft immediately ahead and at a higher elevation. In the same manner Eldon and I will quietly call out "three-o'clock" to indicate a nice lady to the right, or "nine-o'clock" to indicate one to the left. If we are both seated facing the same direction then this code works easily and nearly without fail, but if we are seated in different orientations then we must indicate the proper frame of reference such as, "YOUR six-o'clock" to indicate a target "behind you" or "MY eleven-o'clock" to call out a visual contact in front of me and slightly to the left. So far we have avoided detection by any ladies who might be the object of our admiration. It is possible that we have both been caught with our eyes askew, but no one has ever called us on it. For now we remain free and at large.
Of course the best thing about most simple pleasures is that they require so little effort and are easily grasped by anyone. Who doesn't know how to savor the taste of good food or get swept away in the spontaneity of laughter? Few things have the immediate effect of a favorite song, and what else is easier than an afternoon nap? In a world that loves to measure profit margin and return on investment, the simple pleasures have it over just about any other human endeavor. With little effort you gain so much reward and it is a shame that more people don't seem to understand this. We all rush forward each and every day to further our dreams, and I am certainly in that race, but I'm always ready to step back and watch it all go by for awhile. Isn't that what looking out a window is all about?