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The little things are the most meaningful

Our world has changed dramatically, with fewer places to visit, be entertained, go shopping, get haircuts, work out or have a few drinks.

Thoreau summed it up well when he said, “Things are in the saddle, and they ride mankind.”

Alan Watts, in his book “The Wisdom of Insecurity,” wrote, “Consequently, our age is one of frustration, anxiety, agitation and addiction to ‘dope.’ Somehow we must grab what we can, and drown out the realization that the whole thing is futile and meaningless. This ‘dope’ we call our high standard of living, a violent and complex stimulation of the senses, which makes them progressively less sensitive and thus in need of yet more violent stimulation. We crave distraction — a panorama of sights, sounds, thrills and titillations into which as much as possible must be crowded in the shortest possible time.”

Most of us remember our childhood relishing nature’s wonders, and we were in a constant, timeless state of fun and joy with few if any responsibilities. Everything was fascinating, all insects, birds, flowers. Plus, we were blessed with older siblings or neighborhood friends who were uncanny inventors of a smorgasbord of games that required no money. Summers lasted forever, and we played from morning to late evening. We were in a perpetual state of amazement on a wide assortment of small things.

Yes, we are all much older, shuttered and closed off to this consuming materialistic way of life. But, we can once again be like we were when we were 8 or 10 years old. If we observe as we did as children the incredible life around us, we discover or awaken to these simple joys and wonders.

Would it not be one of the best gifts of your life if someone popped into your home or living environment who has this gift of attentiveness and fascination with everything?

Our granddaughter, now 18, still has this magical childhood knack of seeing the joy and the beauty in the little things. We have been blessed by her keen awareness in pointing out spiders, ants and all kinds of birds and fish and cloud formations resembling a variety of people or animals.

With her knowledge of the digital world, she is providing us seniors with much-needed belly laughs from a variety of YouTube videos.

This spring she has provided us with a bunch of small wonders. She has taken the drudgery out of shopping for food by a floodtide of questions about where to find a particular food or why is that food more healthful than another choice. She has preferences that we never thought about, which has spiced up our eating style.

Her help with outside tasks, preparation of food and clean up, mastery of crossword puzzles and turning us on to some very interesting and entertaining Netflix movies has brought a joy that was badly needed during this pandemic.

A quote from Lin Yutang’s book “The Importance of Living” is right about what one should value: “Only those who take leisurely what the people of the world are busy about can be busy about what the people of the world take leisurely.”

Jim Hawes, a retired Medford school teacher, is author of the self-published “Ageless Child,” and is working on a new book, “Ageless Living.” Email 600- to 700-word articles on all aspects of Inner Peace to Sally McKirgan at innerpeaceforyou@outlook.com.