GNL number 67

a report of doings at meeting #67, Sunday, December 9, 2012
including liturgical items, major themes, ad other odds and ends

INVOCATION

Subtly, in the little ways, joy has been leaking out of our lives. The small pleasures of the ordinary day seem almost contemptible, and glance off us lightly….Perhaps it’s a good time to reconsider pleasure at its roots. Changing out of wet shoes and socks, for instance. Bathrobes. Yawning and stretching. Real tomatoes.
—–Barbara Holland

The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.
—–Jon Kabat-Zinn


THEME

This investigation into Small Pleasures by all accounts was a fruitful one.

Anna opened it with the story of her own truly small pleasures, the mouse colony in her aquarium; she told how she and her have-a-heart trap caught the first three, who happened to be pregnant and suddenly there were many, and how they sleep in a pile in the daytime and cavort at night, and use one corner as their communal toilet. She also has larger pleasures that visit the deck in the evening, including a variety of possums and skunks, whom she can watch through the window-doors.

Cynthia passed out holiday cards (with her verse and photo of us), and one to sign for Adair. Then she described a weekfull+ of small pleasures, starting with spotting a cardinal aglow in a moment of perfect light. Then, one each day, starting with a lovely 92nd birthday visit to friend Charlotte with Gail, Anna, and Nancy, and lunch afterwards; nice dinner with Gail; a great haircut; successfully registering for Social Security; the big ailing tree along their driveway expertly cut down; making “perfect pies” for the family holiday meal at her sister’s; and that, a great reunion; with even Kaylie dog in her final stage traveling well on her warmed seat. So good to have Cyn back.

Sue read several good quotes to start with, and said she had loved thinking about small pleasures, that it had helped her to look at things differently. She spoke of such pleasures as clean sheets that smell and feel so good, putting things at home in place in harmonious ways, and in doing little domestic chores like washing dishes, realizing she would miss doing them. Sue noted the joy of “no-toothache”, to the acute agreement of Ann and others. And she reminded us that finding small pleasures is opening to life around us. For her quotes and notes, see AFTERWORDS.

Nancy said that her new small pleasure and grandboy was busy being born in MassGeneral Hospital right then (and later that evening MAX did arrive)! Among other things, she noted small pleasures of one day last week, which turned up surprisingly many: 9 were encounters with people—family, friends, strangers, one with a sparrow singing his heart out at the sunshine, and one with her 2-month old hollyhock cutting in water, now blooming a 5th time. She loves this topic too and said as others did, that it’s becoming/maybealready a habit. See AW for a few more examples.

Ann first spoke of her own newest living small pleasure, a charmingly energetic, tiny pet dog—part poodle, part terrier, etc.—named Addie (-Pesto). Then she read a poem called Any Morning by William Stafford that she said well conveyed her sense of small pleasures and how to find them. And the beautifully evocative, second poem she read, she said had come to her unbidden outdoors on a Summer Afternoon. Find them both in AFTERWORDS.

Vijaya presented hostess Sue with a small Ganesh figure (benevolent elephant god in India) to hang in her home; and spoke of her own pleasure in nature—plants, birds, clever squirrels, and her garden in back, with Jack’s memorial among the greenery. Citing her longtime interest in healing, she also told us about her work in healing circles, and then a story about giving a customer some healing rock-sweets that the woman did take. She said the woman later returned, bringing strawberries to thank her, and that had pleased Vijaya.

We decided to direct our offering today to the continuing recovery work of Schoharie Area Long Term (SALT), which will be doubled by Fenimore Assets, and perhaps by General Electric as well.


BENEDICTION

A morning glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.
—–Walt Whitman

Pleasure is spread through the earth in stray gifts to be claimed by whoever shall find them.
—–William Wordsworth


NEXT TIME

Sunday, January 13, 2013 (1030), at Ann Adams’ in Sharon Springs. The topic will be ENOUGH. (No, No, please still bring food!)



AFTERWORDS

from Sue:

  • “Happiness consists more in the small conveniences of pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom to a man in the course of his life. ~Benjamin Franklin
  • “Think big thoughts but relish small pleasures.” H. Jackson Brown Jr
  • “Simple pleasures are always the last refuge of the complex” ~Oscar Wilde
  • “Religions, which condemn the pleasures of sense, drive men to seek the pleasures of power. Throughout history power has been the vice of the ascetic.” ~Bertrand Russell
  • “In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.” ~Kahlil Gibran
  • Talked about reframing all the repetitive life chores we face, clean bedsheets among them. Mentioned Thich Nhat Hanh’s concept of the non-toothache as a small pleasure.
  • The information about the solar cooking project I didn’t end up copying for you can be found at: http://solarcooking.wikia.com/wiki/Mary_Frank and at Solar Cookers International http://www.solarcookers.org/index.html

from Nancy:

Saw that my SPs seem to come in several categories—

  • Encounters with people, for instance, and the first ones I thought of were with family, like things my grandkids had said or done. E.g., Emmet at 4 asking on first visit to my place, Grandma, this is a really small house; did you buy it at a toystore? And Sam and Lily still after all these years, knocking on my back this summer because they know I loved it when they were 3 and 4 and still do now they’re 12 and 13.
  • And encounters with friends, like running into Bernadette on my walk up the hill and talking with her for a half hour. And celebrating Charlotte’s 92nd leafing through her photobook, a family-history treasure, and lunchafter with Cyn, Gail, and Anna. And the way every time I go to a store or event, there’s an old friend, often an old Headstart family with the child now 6 feet tall (and usually they recognize me better than I, them).
  • And then encounters with strangers, like me as walker trying to get across Main St, waving happy thanks to the 2 motorists that stop for me. And again in stores, finding people who are open, often children. Like the baby in Aldi’s who had learned one important word that he spoke with a smile to his mom when he saw my flamingly colorful skirt, and that was ”Pretty” (which caused me to keep it in his honor). And more recently, at the Laundromat, the two brothers with mom, who was folding clothes—the bigger one, about 8, amusing himself and his brother, about 5, by floating a feather with his breath and no hands—a joyously wonderful sight that kept me smiling all the way home.
  • And then there are the encounters with other living things, like mama woodchucks on the deck, luna moths that resurrect themselves after 3 days of rest on my leaf. And dowager queen tree of Quarry Street, the magnificent, solitary Shagbark Hickory.
  • And encounters with other kinds of beauty, often on my walks—people’ gestures that have a bit of joy to them or zest, that are life-affirming. Like the 3 old lawn chairs that somebody had placed back at the edge of the woods behind their place. Like the 4 or 5 young people renting the rundown old house up the hill from me for a year or so, who in one day a few weeks ago painted the whole thing a fine brown.
  • And the beauty of kindness. like that of a couple professionals recently: Nino the master Car Guy, who reassured me about my tired old car and put a little air in all the tires as if to give her and me an extra boost. And Tom, the computer technician who did an hour’s worth of patient magic and dumb-question answering to switch my system.
  • And then there’s music, every day, there’s music. Reminding me of the whole glorious deal.

Not so small, these things. Amen.

from Ann:

Any morning

Just lying on the couch and being happy.
Only humming a little, the quiet sound in the head.
Trouble is busy elsewhere at the moment, it has
so much to do in the world.
People who might judge are mostly asleep: they can’t
monitor you all the time, and sometimes they forget.
When dawn flows over the hedge you can
get up and act busy.
Little corners like this, pieces of Heaven
left lying around, can be picked up and saved.
People wont even see that you have them,
they are so light and easy to hide.
Later in the day you can act like the others.
You can shake your head. You can frown.
—–William Stafford

Summer Afternoon

So still…
Surround sound insect songs,
Yet still.
Slight zephyr steals through,
Leaves shrug, then resettle.
So still…
Dragonfly appears, wing snap…hover, gone.
So still…
Pale pond dust in no motion.
Heat invades all, presses down, pooling.
Being still, so hard to do.
—–Ann Adams

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1 Comment

  1. Mary Sheehan said,

    December 17, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    This interesting and topic-appropriate note from the writings of Dr. Joseph Mercola, an osteopath practicing alternative medicine; he quotes Dr. Michael Merzenich, pioneer researcher in brain plasticity for 30 years:

    “One of the things that happens across this period (of the 3rd or 4th decade of life) is that you go from a period of acquisition of abilities, to largely using those abilities that have been acquired…the fundamental skills that you apply in your profession or in your everyday life are things you master, and you’re doing them without thought. To a large extent, you’re operating most of the day without being consciously engaged in the things you’re doing…I’ve gone without really thinking very much about the physical acts of driving. I’m substantially disengaged. This has been contributed to substantially by modern culture. Modern culture is all about taking out surprises….to basically reduce the stimulation in a sense…so we could engage in sort of an abstract level of operations. We’re no longer interested in the details of things. We’re no longer interested in resolving the details of what we see or hear or feel, and our brains slowly deteriorate.” (One of the things Dr. Merzenich recommends is “to look for and take note of surprises in your environment. If you walk across the landscape and are paying attention, you cannot take a walk for 15, 20 or 30 minutes without being surprised…and the brain loves surprises…”)


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