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Friday, October 19, 2012

Whiskers on Kittens - The Good Life in Lists

The woods in the morning - definitely on my list!

We’re all fascinated with lists. Pick up the TV remote and cruise through the cable channels. It’s the top ten this and the top 50 that from the top to the bottom of the channel listings. Even the inimitable Mary Poppins had a list of her favorite things.

If you were to sing about your favorite things just now, it’s not likely to include raindrops on roses or doorbells, though you might rather enjoy those things. You might mention hot dogs and baseball, bikinis on beach babes or the smell of new shoes. Everybody’s got something that tweaks their nostrils or warms the cockles of their hearts.

Psychologists have learned that smells are powerful memory triggers. The other five senses can draw old memories out of your head as well – for good or ill. If you’re not careful, if you’ve lead a traumatic life, if you’ve experienced something horrific, it’s a good idea to learn to control the brain’s troubling little popups or you can wind up a basket cases, curled up in your bed trying to avoid seeing, touching, smelling, tasting or hearing anything.

One way to take control back is a little trick I learned inadvertently when I was a kid. I make lists of things I like. This morning I was out walking with Daisy and, as is my habit, I began experiencing the walk as though for the first time and making myself aware of the sights, smells, and even the tastes of things around me. I started listing all the things I like about a morning walk with my dog. Here’s a sample of my favorite things from today - in order.
  1. The cool autumn breeze on my face and the smell of autumn.
  2. The bit of blue sky peeking out between the clouds and the little shafts of warm sunlight that poke their way down through the trees ever once in a while.
  3. The sweet taste of rain fat blackberries, plucked straight off the vine.
  4. Daisy’s warm breath against my leg where’s she’s sniffing at the dog treats in my pocket and hinting shameless for a little snack.
  5. I like the sound of the big planes taking off from McCord Air Base just down the road.
  6. I like the crunch of gravel along the path through the woods where we walk.
  7. I get a kick out of watching Daisy’s ears come up when she spots a squirrel or a fat rabbit and the way she gets down on her belly like a commando to try and sneak up on them.
  8. The squirrel sitting on a limb after taking refuge up the tree as he sits and chitters at Daisy, just as mad as an old wet hen. Funny stuff.
  9. The pumpkins and tombstones in people’s front yards where they’ve decorated for Halloween and the arrow sign in someone’s flower bed that points east and says “Diagon Alley”. Even more fun is two doors down another neighbor has a similar wooden arrow that points west to “Hogwarts”.
  10. I even like the raindrops against my face that send Daisy and I hurrying toward the house to avoid a good dousing.

That’s my ten fav’s just for today. Yeah, my life’s a mess right now. I’m still looking for a job. We’re a week from being homeless and I haven’t found us a place to live yet. We're broke and Sabbath may be the last chance I get to go to church for some time, Sheila’s sick and my knees hurt. But for just a bit, life felt good and sometimes that’s all you get in a day and it’s enough.

I remember the passage from Robert Browning’s poem that I learned in Mrs. Creel’s English class:

The year’s at the spring,

And day’s at the morn;

Morning’s at seven;

The hill-side’s dew-pearled;

The lark’s on the wing;

The snail’s on the thorn;

God’s in his Heaven -

All’s right with the world!
I suspect He is in his heaven and all is right with the world after all, if we could just look at things the way God does.

In the meantime, I’ll remember the cool rain against my face and the taste of fresh blackberries and smile mysteriously. Somebody’s bound to wonder what in heck I’ve got to be grinning about and that's something else I enjoy.

© 2012 by Tom King

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