The Simple Life
By Michele Meier Vosberg
Ode to Joy
Summertime and the living is easy…
That’s the music I should be hearing in my head. I know the world is supposed to slow down in the summer, but it does not come naturally to me. Summer means more time off for me… and a “to do” list longer than yesterdays hemlines. I have things to paint, closets to clean out and plants to move. I can’t just go sit in a hammock when there are things to be done. The stack of books to read is getting higher. I can’t wait until I can make a tall glass of ice tea and sit outside and just read them. I will, too, just as soon as I get those pictures hung and get the oil in the car changed and split those hostas…
Someone who once supplied a job reference for me called me “impatient for perfection.” It was an apt, if not flattering, description. I suspect many of us who are perfectionists are a touch impatient. We want things done and we want them done right. We are willing to sacrifice for achievement. As a whole, I suspect we are a joyless lot. It is hard to experience joy when your world is not completed to the standard that you have set. For example, I’ll watch a movie after my work is done and the house is clean. I don’t see a lot of movies. Perfectionists are hard workers. We are purposeful and accomplished. It doesn’t come without a price.
A friend of mine has a summer cabin on a lake in upper Michigan. This is where they go to relax, to fish, to sit around in an old Adirondack chair and do nothing. It is a lovely concept. I can imagine myself as a wilderness woman. I conjure up images of a simple cabin, decorated in homespun quilts, with weathered boards and rustic furniture. My husband and I would go for long walks along the beach at twilight. In the evenings we’d build a fire and sit around with friends, toasting marshmallows and listening to the loons.
In reality, I’d be a disaster at the summer cabin lifestyle. Just think, I’d have another house to clean. I suspect that weathered siding is not as maintenance free as you might think. I probably could not afford to buy those beautiful quilts, but I could make them, I’d use my grandmother’s quilting boards. And rustic furniture? Once in New Orleans I saw a loveseat made of twigs and branches. I dutifully sketched it so that someday I might be able to make one. Someone has to cook those meals, and sweep the sand off the pine floor. Who has time for a walk on the beach?
It’s pitiful, I know. I’m working on it. This summer, I’ve decided to take a few minutes every day to notice something joyful. I may not be able to keep everything in my world the way I want it, but I think of these as little pockets of perfection. They aren’t earth shattering, but they are meaningful. Finding them has gotten easier with practice and they bring me a little bit of happiness every day. My little joys include things such as:
-a couple of fresh flowers stuck in colored bottles on my kitchen windowsill. They are simple and perfect
-a pair of new colts in the pasture I drive by every day. I find myself choosing that route even though it is longer
-the woman at tech support who helped me restore my crashed computer, she was brilliant and I am grateful
-Sarah Vaughn singing Blue Skies, The Dixie Chicks belting it out, Clarence Clemons on saxophone
–Watching a hummingbird attack the snapdragons in my flower pots
These are little things, and they aren’t going to change the world, but I’m hoping that they just might change me. This summer, try finding your own little moments of joy. Maybe, like me, you’ll find yourself singing a new song.