Learning useless life skills that are super fun. I can officially say that I know how to curl. You know, the sport on ice with the giant rocks and the brooms? When am I ever going to use that in my life? Probably never, but at least I can say that I have done it.
Rereading a book you love but haven’t touched in years. It’s like revisiting an old, familiar friend. You may not have been the best at keeping in touch, but you can easily pick up where you left off. You can remember all of the things you loved about them then and see all sorts of new things you never noticed before. You can become friends all over again.
Pens that write really well. Some pens struggle to get out of bed in the morning. They write half of the time and spend more time just making scratches in the paper. Then there are the pens that don’t cause you any problems but they aren’t your favorite either. They work. And then, then there are the pens that are absolutely perfect and it makes you unreasonably happy to use them. Hang on to those pens, because they don’t come around everyday.
Waking up praying. When the first thing you do after turning off your alarm is tell the Lord good morning, you have your focus set right where it needs to be. That’s when your day becomes conquerable and joyful. And those are the days I appreciate having.
When you and your friends are on the same brainwave when it comes to food. So much hassle goes away when you know what you want to eat and when you want to eat it and the people you are eating with agree with you.
When you don’t like a subject but the instructor makes it interesting. I respect people who are passionate about their craft, even when their craft is something I am not a particular fan of. When people love what they do, they can make it engaging even if they don’t realize they are doing it.
Listening to your shoes on the pavement and the sound of your breath and your heart beating in your ears. Little sounds are calming sounds. They remind you to be present. The world may not be invading your senses, but it crowds around to listen. You can’t help but be aware of life and how you are intertwined into it.
Happy chatter. When you get a group of people with things in common together and set them loose, they will start talking. And if they like each other, they will infuse each other with enthusiasm and the whole conversation starts to glow. Once you get enough of those little conversations happening in a room the space fills with warmth and joy even if you don’t catch a snippet of any of the many interactions happening around you, they permeate a rosy sense of contentment.
Wearing something outside of your comfort zone. Brighter or edgier or more patterns or structure. It is refreshing do go outside of your rut and try something a little different. If you keep your shoulders back and believe you can pull it off, it is all kind of fun.
Long, deep conversations with people you wish you knew better. Conversation has a way of bonding people on the strangest topics. You may start somewhere that makes sense but before you know it you are contemplating a giraffe’s favorite color or sharing the strangest stories about your childhood.
Sitting next to strangers at the movie theater. Gasp! Sit next to strangers? At the movie theater? Why would you ever do that? It’s against cinema etiquette! I know most people prefer to leave at least one seat between themselves and the person sitting nearest them unless they have no other choice. But why? It’s such a unique experience to sit side by side with someone you have never met and experience and react to the same thing. It’s an intimate sort of relationship that is formed when you both snicker at the same time or you see them covertly reach up to brush a tear out of their eye. Sure, you probably won’t even remember their face because you really weren’t watching it, but you will always associate that person’s reactions with that movie, which is a neat little avenue of human interaction that never fails to put a smile on my face.
Looking through photos of your friends from before you knew them. It is odd, as someone who grew up with the same people from preschool through high school graduation, to think about the fact that the people I know now have only been in my life for a short period of time and that I don’t automatically know their entire history. I feel like I have known them forever so the reminder that I didn’t actually experience their childhood right alongside them is strange. It’s fun to discover it though. To learn more about someone by seeing their seventh grade fashion sense or their adorable toddler antics. To see how much they resemble their family and the activities that they put time and care into just a few years ago. It’s a privilege to learn about a person in the light of their scrapbooks.
When new places have the same traditions as old places. At my home church, one of the longtime members of the church makes it his job to know if it is anyone’s birthday so that he can get everyone in the vicinity to sing for them. But we can’t just sing “happy birthday,” we always have to keep going with “God’s blessings.” Today, at my school church, we did the very same thing. It is comforting to know that your traditions may be personal, but they are not isolated and you can enjoy them with other people in other places and feel just as connected.
Feeling safe. It’s something I know I take for granted in my everyday life. I walk across campus alone at one in the morning and spend the whole time looking at the stars. I snuggle down for bed and can reliably trust that I am not in danger when I close my eyes. I can tell people what’s on my mind without worrying about where that information might go or who might use it. It’s a blessing that not everyone gets to enjoy and I am grateful to be held in my savior’s arms.
Wiping your hands on your apron when you are baking. Watching those floury fingerprints streak across the fabric. Making a mess on purpose on a canvas meant to keep you clean, but instead it lets you engage. What’s baking without a little extra flavor clinging to the fabric tied around your neck, right?
When your friends all have the same sense of humor. It takes a special sort of person to appreciate certain brands of humor, and boy am I glad that I have a group of people who can all have stitches in our sides together because someone made a terrible pun. Laughter is contagious, but it is most fun when everyone is feeding off of everyone else.
Silence on phone calls. It is comforting to listen to the slight crackle of static on the other end of the line and know that you are sharing presence with someone, even if they are in another room or hundreds of miles away.
Gathering together for the sole purpose of prayer. Worshiping in community draws people together around Christ, and it makes sense that prayer in community should do the same. How cool is it that we have the opportunity to gather and talk directly to God with each other and for each other? There is power in that.
Remembering to eat waffles. At my college dining hall, we have a waffle station. At the far end of the caf, it stands sentry, awaiting the day when someone finally remembers they can make a waffle whenever they want. It is a beautiful realization when I can’t decide what to eat and I remember I can have a waffle. It is a pleasant surprise every time.
The first view out the window when I open the curtain in the morning. My day technically begins when I grumble and roll over to punch the screeching alarm clock, but at that point the morning is self-contained. All of my experiences from that point to the moment are like the inside of the box with Schrödinger’s cat. The world outside exists, but at the same time it doesn’t yet. The only thing I can experience is inside of my little quarters. So I bumble around and I get ready for the day and then I walk to the window and throw open the curtain. The light tumbles in and there is the hospital across the street and cars ambling down the street and perhaps a few snowflakes lazily drifting across the sky or, if I get up early enough, a few brilliant colors still smudged on the horizon. That’s the real moment the day begins.
When people you respect encourage you. Vulnerability is such a taboo thing, to be kept behind closed doors and only allowed to happen in certain circumstances with certain people. If you go outside of that bubble, it is terrifying to wait for how people will respond to your unsolicited disclosure. It is a relief when others can understand, but it is downright uplifting when someone you respect reacts by reaching out to you.
Working unsolicited Harry Potter quotes into everyday life. It is immensely satisfying to turn everything into an opportunity for a little magic. After all, happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if only one remembers to turn on the light. That was cheesy, but still. You get my point.
Ordering tea at a cafe where they give you a pot of tea and a little cup. No matter how many times I do it, there is something novel in the experience of being in a public place and getting to pour my own tea.
Stopping to look at the stars when you are walking outside at night. It’s the night owl’s version of stopping to smell the roses. You get to pause, look around, and drink in the commonplace extraordinary. Take a second away from the drudgery and the stress and just appreciate.
Messing around in swivel chairs. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how inundated with regular office-grade swivel chairs, those little wheels can be tantalizingly persuasive to your childish side. Let it go every once in a while. Don’t resist the urge to spin around as fast as you can or see how fast you can rocket down the hallway. It never gets old.
Waking up to a happy thought. Waking up can be a struggle some days, there is no denying it, but when the first thing that pops into your head when your eyes greet the morning makes you grin, swinging your legs over the edge of the bed doesn’t seem so odious anymore. Your head feels a little clearer and the light tapping at your window asking to come in doesn’t seem affronting, only friendly.
Hearing about other people’s traditions. I had all sorts of quirky little traditions growing up. Building blanket forts with clothespins to hold it all together, The Trolley, fake jam sessions with a fake guitar and some sticks with a box, making cereal by shredding paper, and the list goes on an on. But it’s fun to realize that everyone else grew up with little traditions and habits of their own. Childhood routines, family rituals, the lot. And all of those little traditions compile into a person. Everyone has backstories, even if they are little everyday occurrences that, that help make a piece of the person you come to know and love.
Tap dance. Whose idea was it to strap noisy things on the bottom of your shoes and wiggle your feet around? Because whoever it was, I respect that person. Coordinated cacophony. I’m all about that.