The other night as I was driving to work I passed a burnt out streetlamp – not exactly an unusual thing nowadays, really – but just as I was getting level with it, the bulb suddenly flared into life. This sort of thing happens all the time, lights abruptly turning on and off. Streetlamps are particularly prone to it for some reason. I’m sure everyone of you has experienced this exact same thing. The difference is in the reaction. For me, that moment when the circle of light suddenly washed around me, my brain didn’t go to the idea of motion sensors or shorted wires or other technological banalities. My heart leapt into my throat and there was a piece of me that breathed, “It must’ve been magic.”
Then, because I’m a nerd, I started chanting, “Nox,” in the hopes I could get the light to suddenly shut itself off as well. It didn’t work.
I often get called a bit childish. A lot of people would think that this is an insult, and maybe it’s meant that way, but that’s not the way I take it. Because when I get sidetracked by watching the aimless path of a butterfly, or excited by the first winter snowflakes, or see something mundane happen and believe, if only for a second, that it must’ve been caused by magic, I realise that I’ve got something special that most people don’t have anymore. I see the world the same way that a child does. I can still find magic and beauty and wonder in a world full of darkness and cynicism. And I wouldn’t trade that for all the “Maturity” in the world.
Children see the world through the eyes of innocence. Everything they see, they see as if for the first time. Science and technology and nature all present the possibility for magic. But as we get older and more knowledgeable and experienced, we start to lose that wonder. As an adult, we take these things for granted, and as this happens we start to only see the downsides of them. Snow is no longer the first great indicator of winter, a pretty fluttering of sparkling crystals in the sky, a harbinger of hot cocoa and the holidays and mittens and scarves. It’s that stuff that’s cold, and makes driving difficult and dangerous, and brings in the season of expensive spending and tedious family gatherings.
So as someone who is still fascinated by the smallest things, here are five of the world’s greatest little pleasures that are too often taken for granted.
I know everyone says this, but it’s true. Hear me out. So we all know what bubbles are of course; a soapy mixture that, when filled with air, retains a spherical shape and floats around a bit before landing on something, popping, and splashing soap on everything. As an grown-up, our first thought is “God, that’s going to soak into everything and if that spot gets wet now it’s going to be a frothy mess, etc etc…” Which is not wrong.
But think about when you were a little kid and you got that fresh bottle of bubble solution (or bubble juice, as I called it) and that flimsy little plastic wand. Your reaction wasn’t about the mess or that your hands would be sticky or that essentially you were just experimenting with the elasticity of soapy water. Unless you were that weird kid who matured way too early, in which case I am really sorry.
No, your instinct was the immediately rush outside and set about blowing the absolute biggest bubble you could possibly manage without it popping. You wanted to blow a stream of them and try to catch them again on your wand. You would blow a bunch and then try to pop them all before they reached the ground, or try to keep them floating so they never popped. That bottle contained a magic potion that allowed you to create these lighter-than-air spheres that fluttered away on the breeze and offered hours of endless entertainment.
And an extra frothy bath that night was just the bonus.
Rainstorms are a particular favourite of mine. Since I live in a part of Utah that so very sees any form of real weather, getting a rainstorm is like a heaven sent miracle. Whenever I see those dark clouds boiling up on the horizon I can’t stop myself from getting so incredibly hopeful. Then those hopes are usually dashed when the rain dumps on the mountains behind us and is completely gone by the time it hits town.
There are definitely some downfalls to rain (bad pun not intended). It makes driving more dangerous; it is often cold and ruins a good picnic or day out; in extreme cases it can actually cause serious damage, triggering mudslides and floods.
But come on people, we are talking about water falling from the sky! It’s like the world’s most gigantic shower. It washes down and cleans the whole world and leaves everything smelling fresh and earthy. It brings life to the world and helps plants to grow. It causes puddles made for jumping in. It gives you the perfect excuse to stay home and curl up with a warm drink and good book, which is an introvert like me’s dream come true. Rain is the iconic setting for every chick flick’s epic first kiss scene. And it is brilliant for an impromptu dance party.
Unless there’s lightning. Then you’re probably better off staying indoors, just in case.
Now this is one I’m a little bit torn on sometimes. As a kid I was terrified of fireworks, with the exception of those little snappers you through at the ground and occasionally sparkler wands. Even now, I sometimes get anxious about firework shows as I’m not generally a fan of loud noises. And I really hate those ones that shriek; whose horrible idea was that? Fireworks that scream? In what world is that clever?
I’m getting off topic here though. In America, I’m pretty sure we set off more fireworks yearly than any other country except maybe China and Japan. We use them for every holiday, especially in the summer, to the point where they are pretty much a commonplace occurrence between Memorial Day and Labour Day.
But even though I don’t particularly enjoy the noises, I always enjoyed firework shows as a kid. First off, they are literally miniature explosions. You set them on fire and they blow up. Ka-boom. That wins bonus points from pretty much every kid. Secondly, they are pretty. Even as an adult I think so. Brightly coloured sparkles glowing against the night sky like new constellations. And they only get more impressive and advanced as the years go by. When I was a kid, it was amazing enough when the fireworks started exploding in two different colours. Now they have effects for their rise, explode in multiple colours, and form pictures and even words in the sky when they do. With science we accomplish what Harry Potter needed a wand to do.
Now being from a small town, I will admit that our firework shows are generally pretty pathetic. To see really impressive shows you have to live in cities with a budget, who hire professionals to design those elaborate itineraries set to music and soundtracks. I got a bit disenchanted by them and fireworks became a meaningless tradition of pollution and noise that scared the dogs.
Then I went to Disneyworld Orlando for the first time and got to watch the firework show that they do over the castle. And Oh. My. God. I have never been more fascinated by fireworks than I was that night. I literally sat still there the entire time – which is a feat for me, I don’t hold still long – and my jaw was hanging all the way to the ground, my eyes wide as saucers. It was so perfectly planned, the fireworks actually serving a purpose in the story of the show instead of just timed with drum beats or cymbals. It was like sitting in the middle of the most epic theatre production of all time. For anyone who’s never been, I would highly recommend that everyone get to their closest Disney park and watch a firework show. It changes you.
This is one of those things that has been ruined in value by the internet. If you browse tumblr and pintrest and any of those image websites, you’ll find adorable pictures of puppies and kittens and bunnies everywhere. There are entire websites devoted to photos of animals being cute. My facebook feed is usually covered in shared pictures of kittens in cups and puppies in halloween costumes. Youtube videos of pandas on slides and ticklish penguins and the peek-a-boo kitten go viral faster than the newest Kardashian sex tape. There are memes and reddit threads and I Can Haz Cheezburger. If the internet was a country, it’s national animal would be the cat.
We are over-exposed to cuteness and this has desensitised us quite a bit. But nothing in the world compares to the being able to pick up and snuggle some fluffy little puppy, or having a kitten purring as it curls up on your chest. It’s much like I imagine a new parent feels when they get their baby to fall asleep in their arms. As someone whose household has acquired two puppies and two kittens in the last year, I can vouch that it really is that satisfying.
And they’re just so CUTE!
Now I’m going to specify straight off that when I say Game Night, I do NOT mean playing Words With Friends on your phone with your family/friends. And if you are doing this while you’re both in the same room, you deserve to be kicked. You know who you are. Stop it.
No, when I say Game Night, I mean getting a group of people together to sit down at a table and playing a board or card game together, and actually speaking to each other. Put those phones down, even turn them off if you can bear to do so, and have a conversation with the person across the table from you. Tease, taunt, joke, threaten – non-violently, please. Just create a connection.
This is one of those traditions my family has made a pretty good point of sustaining. We played board games together all the time when I was a kid. Now that we are all grown up, we have a set plan that every year on New Years Eve we get together and play games together until midnight. It gives us an opportunity to have fun together for once, to laugh and play and tease, to enjoy each other’s company and forge real, lasting memories. Some of our family’s best inside jokes and some of my fondest memories come from game nights.
And if you need extra incentive, play for money. You get to create a bond with your friends and with their wallets! Score!