Tired and a bit jet lagged, I headed for the nearest ladies room after getting off the plane. As I was leaving the restroom a little girl held my attention. Perhaps three, she stood under the hand-dryer holding her hands in the air, waiting for the warm air to waft down to them.
When nothing happened, she called to her mother who was occupied with assisting a second child in washing his hands. Calling out instructions to her daughter as to where to wave her tiny hands, the little girl giggled as the warm air came, like magic.
As she pulled her hands to her sides, she stopped the wall-mounted automatic hand-dryer. When she raised and waved them again, the blowing mechanism clicked on. Gleefully laughing she again pulled her hands to her sides to make it stop. Again she started it. Again she laughed. Again she stopped it. Again she laughed.
While I may be past the age of fascination by a hand-dryer and my power to turn it on and off, I am at an age of personal questions. When did I lose my glee? Why did I stop noticing the mountains from my office window? When did I trade my child-like curiosity for an anesthetized routine?
Like a drug addict searching for her next high, I’ve sought my glee in postcard perfect vacations, new adventures, milestone events, and key experiences. And when I do these things, it happens. I feel that gleeful aliveness again. In between, bombarded by messages, tasks, bills, and responsibilities, I get lost in the clutter of everyday life.
But on that day, I left the ladies room with a smile and a reminder. Life is in the ordinary: the gentle pat from my husband, the soulful smile from a stranger, the pink and purple sky at sunset, the taste of good red wine, the tears evoked by a book, the call from a friend, the sunshine dancing on the mountains, the time with family, the unexpected thank you, the music that has me singing or dancing along. These are life’s everyday wonders, and all glee-worthy.
Like licking an all-day Sugar Daddy as a child, there’s sweetness in the ordinary parts of our lives. But just noticing isn’t enough. Watching that little girl intoxicated by discovering power over a drying machine, I realized her glee was ignited by embracing and basking in that moment.
In the scheme of things, these glee-reminders are everywhere. They spark awareness to remember it’s better to savor everyday happenings than numbly wait to spring alive only when the extraordinary shows up. Life unfolds daily. We can see it and enjoy it, or blindly stumble through it.
What I’ve learned is this: it’s up to me to linger on that morning kiss, engage my family and friends in philosophy discussions, breathe in the mountain air, and feel my hands enveloped by the warm air of a hand-dryer. It’s up to me to embrace the pleasures that are available every day, from flowers to friends. It’s up to me to recapture and hold on to the glee.