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Most of us are familiar with the expression, “He who dies with the most toys wins,” meaning people crave recognition for owning the biggest house, the fastest car, a huge yacht, the most expensive watch, or an impressive title. Although such people should be congratulated on their success, to me, this is rather shallow thinking as I believe it is the little things that make life worthwhile. For example:
I really enjoy seeing a job well done, producing a quality product on time and within budget. This is a testament to the people who produced it and the manager in charge. Better yet, performing a job admired by others. Unfortunately, we no longer seem to be able to conquer too many large projects any more, which is why when such projects are completed properly, we should celebrate. This also explains why we are content doing smaller projects these days.
Back in 1985, when we moved our office from Cincinnati to Tampa Bay, we performed a considerable amount of planning. On Friday, the movers came to load our office furniture. We backed up our mini computer for the last time before unplugging it and loading it on the truck. We then drove as a convoy to Florida. On Monday morning, the movers brought in our furniture to the new office, we installed the computer, and were back up and operational by 9:00am Monday morning. Some people thought the move couldn’t be done over a weekend. We didn’t think twice about it. It was a pleasure though to watch this project being performed like clock work.
This leads me to the next point, I enjoy seeing someone solve a problem generally regarded as impossible to conquer. There are a lot of naysayers in the world telling us what can or cannot be done. It’s always a pleasure to prove them wrong. In particular, we produced a technology to automatically design and document information systems based on the interpretation of requirements. People said it couldn’t be done. We proved them wrong. We also produced a technology to automatically calculate corporate priorities which others said couldn’t be done. Again, we proved them wrong. The key to success was nothing more than a little perseverance, and a lot of common sense.
Beyond this, it is a pleasure to watch anyone who knows what he/she is doing, be it a craftsman creating a quality product, a salesman who knows his product line, a customer service agent who knows how to patiently expedite the problems of a client, a waitress who performs her job friendly and professionally, or a janitor who takes pride in his work. The antithesis of this is the person who has earned degrees and/or certificates, yet hasn’t a clue on how to produce or deliver anything.
I also enjoy seeing a good deed performed whether it is for a neighbor, friend, a co-worker, or a complete stranger, thereby maintaining our sense of humanity and decency. It could be as simple as mowing the person’s lawn, shoveling snow from a driveway, offering a meal, or helping out anyway we can, all quietly and respectfully.
Then we come into the simple pleasures of the physical world, such as listening to some great music without commercial interruption. For me, it’s jazz, classical, big band and good old rock and roll.
Many consider food a pleasurable experience, but not just any food. Many of us enjoy the comfort foods prepared by mothers and grandmothers, be it nothing but warm bread, cakes or pies. Perhaps there is a special salad they know how to make, or a main dish such as lasagna, a casserole, or something from our cultural past, such as an ethnic dish. Likewise, they equally enjoy preparing it knowing it to be a favorite of ours.
Then there is the matter of sweets. As a kid, one of my favorite Halloween treats was a Chunky bar, which we considered the nirvana of chocolate. I happened to spot one in a local drug store recently and had to have it, and, Yes, it was every bit as good as I remembered it.
We also take pleasure in local cuisine, especially if we have been away for a period of time. In Buffalo, NY it is char-grilled foot long hot dogs with curly fries, a Beef on a Weck, Chicken Wings, clam bars, and a Friday night fish fry. In Cincinnati, OH it is ribs, goetta, metts and brats, ice cream, a Frisch’s Big Boy, and sliders from White Castle. In Tampa Bay, it’s grouper cooked a variety of ways, shrimp, Cuban sandwiches, and Greek salads. Yum!
There is also nothing quite like the love of a good woman, and to witness the triumphs of your offspring, be it a home run or touchdown, a good report card, graduation, jobs, etc. Sitting on the sidelines and just enjoying the moment can be very rewarding.
Other little pleasures include reading a book that doesn’t disappoint you. You feel like it was time well vested. I also happen to like wadding in a fresh water stream fishing for trout. There is something to be said about being divorced from the real world for a few hours and preoccupied hunting your quarry.
Bottom-line for me, I take pleasure in having a good drink, good cigar, and good conversation with friends. I find this more rewarding than any mansion, yacht or fancy automobile. Then again, I have nothing to prove to anybody.
Keep the Faith!