I recently came across Modern Delight, a collection of essays from an eclectic selection of writers including Michael Palin, Nick Hornby, Stephen Fry, Sebastian Faulk and Lynne Truss on the small things which brings them delight. Taking its inspiration from J.B. Priestley’s 1949 book “Delight”, this book is filled with musings on universal themes. All proceeds from the book go to two UK charities: Dyslexia Action and the London Library.
Taking delight in life’s small pleasures is a choice that is open to us all to make. I recently celebrated my fifth year since being diagnosed with breast cancer with a day of delighting in the ordinary. I woke up to blue skies, which undoubtedly contributed enormously to my delight – it is so much easier to delight in things when the sun is shining! I enjoyed a delicious frothy coffee and cake with a friend in a coffee shop in the morning. In the afternoon, I went for a long walk down country lanes, listening to the chirping of birds, the drone of the last of the summer bees in the hedgerows, looking at the first tinges of gold and red hues in the tops of the trees. I picked some ripe juicy blackberries; I passed fields of melancholy looking cows and chestnut horses. I closed my eyes to listen to the waterfall sounds of the river and when I opened them, the sunlight was dancing on the water and golden hued leaves were floating down silenty onto to the stones and rocks in the gently flowing river. I walked through the doors of an old country church, inhaling that sweet musty smell of old wood, looking at the dancing motes in the shaft of sunlight coming through the multi-coloured panes of the stained glass window.
I have learned to embrace such moments in my life- to commit them to memory so that I can retrieve them when my daily litany of things to moan about gets too out of hand. In the midst of all this doom and gloom today, there are still moments of pleasure to be observed. At the risk of sounding all Julie Andrews with this list of some of my favourite things, since I learned to take delight in the small ordinary things, my life has become more joyful and less of an endurance.
So all together now everybody, sing with me ..”girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes/ whiskers on kittens / warm woollen mittens….brown paper packages tied up with string…”