Simple pleasures are the last healthy refuge in a complex world.—Oscar Wilde
After several starts and stops during its construction last year, I was finally able to move into my new home this April. A pandemic with its intermittent lockdowns is probably the worst time to build because of the varying levels of government restrictions on many activities, not to mention people’s natural fear of catching the virus.
The many hassles of building and moving house aside, I am now contentedly ensconced in my new abode. But the striking thing about the whole process of changing residence—from the time I started shopping for a suitable lot, through overseeing the different phases of construction, buying the furnishings and fixtures (all with the invaluable help of my daughters), and finally sleeping for the first time in a brand-new bed—was immensely enjoyable on the whole.
This was because I promised myself that I would enjoy the bits and pieces of the process this time, despite the almost inevitable problems that usually arise during construction. I had built several homes earlier, and I have learned the most valuable lesson: Enjoy the process and “don’t sweat the small stuff.” As author Richard Carlson adds in the title of his famous book, “and it’s all small stuff.”
Although there still were the usual trying moments (poor workmanship, higher costs, repeat work, etc.) when I had to express displeasure, my new attitude on focusing on the positives, no matter how small, made the overall experience satisfying.
For instance, I made it a point to find great pleasure in choosing the right floor tiles, the matching pieces of furniture for the different rooms, the changeable tricolor lighting fixtures and other accessories.
With this auspicious start, I have also discovered new sources of simple but unusual enjoyment in my new home.
As luck would have it, next to my house is an empty lot with some large fruit-bearing trees. Apparently attracted to the succulent fruits, several species of birds have made these trees their homes. So when I sit in my living room or in the adjacent open lanai at any time of the day, I’m almost always treated to the tweeting, chirping, whistling and warbling of different kinds of birds as they perch on the branches or fly from tree to tree.
The most beautiful of these are a pair of birds with vibrant yellow-and-black plumage, whose melodious whistles are heard frequently throughout the day. I have learned to imitate their distinctive whistling sound, so we hold “conversations” by taking turns whistling to one another, for as long as I want, since they never seem to tire of answering back.
I researched these birds on Google and have found out that they are orioles, of which there are many types (which include the Philippines’ black-naped kilyawan), sporting their distinctive yellow or orange-and-black colors, depending on their region of origin. It’s such a delight to have these beautiful creatures as one’s next-door neighbors.
Another source of simple pleasure provided by my new home is the constant discovery of interesting new routes for my regular walks/jogs. Although my house is in the same subdivision as my former residence, our village is so huge (about 700 hectares) that there is an almost endless variety of hiking, jogging and biking routes to choose from.
My new area opens up to more, differently designed old and newly built houses, which are a feast for the eyes—from the traditional Filipino-inspired and the eclectic contemporary, to the recently popular Asian modern, the once favored Mediterranean, plus other way-out, interesting designs which are a challenge to identify.
Our village is a veritable showcase of a wide variety of house designs, because it allows its residents great freedom in expressing their individuality and creativity. Walking its many roads and inviting parks, pleasant surprises abound everywhere.
Good book to stunning views
These experiences resulting from the transition to my new home have convinced me that it is the simple, everyday pleasures that give the consistent, rich texture to our lives, not the big special events that come only once in a while, although those milestones are special in themselves.
According to an article in slh.com, researchers at One Poll interviewed 6,000 adults in four countries (the United Kingdom, the United States, Singapore and Australia) to find out the little things that brought joy to people, specifically “the Top 50 simple pleasures.” Not surprisingly, many of these were common to the respondents of the four countries, and probably, by extension, to the rest of the world as well.
Topping the list were: being somewhere new/discovering a new place; finishing a really good book; stunning views; going on a picnic; listening to favorite songs; and feeling the sun on your face.
Here are the other simple pleasures cited to which I specially relate from personal experience: sleeping on a freshly made bed; making someone smile or laugh; hearing nothing but birds tweeting (now a favorite of mine); spotting a new species of bird (as I related earlier); playing a musical instrument (my guitar); going to the beach; traveling across the state (riding my motorcycle in the countryside); doing exercise (can’t live without this); playing with your pet (I have several I enjoy immensely).
I look forward to discovering new sources of simple enjoyment in the environment of my new home. These joyful opportunities are always there for everyone, no matter the circumstances. The existence or absence of a pandemic or a lockdown makes little difference. —CONTRIBUTED INQ