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Home / Articles / Columnists / Life 101 /  Appreciating Simple Things
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Tuesday, November 7,2023

Appreciating Simple Things

By Cary Bayer  
My wife has a fork that she loves in our condo on the ocean in South Florida. She also has a fork that she loves in our home in the mountains of Woodstock. Fortunately, it’s a different fork, so she doesn’t have to transport the same utensil back and forth with between our homes. God forbid, on the drive back we come to a fork in the road: what if she likes that fork too? If one of her beloved forks is in the dishwasher and it’s not yet time to run a cycle, she’ll take it from the dishwasher and wash it by hand.

I find her fork fetish amusing. After all, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein, “A fork is a fork is a fork.” Right? Well, maybe not. The more I think about it, the more I find her fork thing charming and conscious. The woman loves these forks. And love, as Lennon and McCartney sang, “is all you need.”

My wife and her fork remind me also of a beautiful ritual that my friend Lisa used to do with her small children Rachael and Noah. Before she’d put them to bed, she’d take each of them around to different inanimate things in their home, and have the little ones say goodnight to them. “Goodnight clock, goodnight couch, goodnight TV,” they’d say, and so on. Sometimes one of them would remind Momma that she forgot to give them the chance to say “Goodnight, carpet.” You get the idea.

I always found this nightly ritual adorable and conscious. She was teaching her kids to appreciate simple things. As Ray Stevens sang,

Everything is beautiful In its own way Like a starry summer night Or a snow-covered winter’s day.

One thing that keeps life mundane and unconscious is the very commonplace expression and sentiment: “Been there, done that,” and “Same old, same old.” It reinforces the belief that the things of the “outside world” are just that – things. I think it’s this lack of appreciation of them that has blindly led mankind to rape the planet of its resources and pollute the air that we breathe and the water that we drink. We’ve lost the awareness that the planet is a living thing. We’ve lost the appreciation of simple things.

And that reminds me of some lyrics from another songwriting duo: Rodgers (music) and Hammerstein (lyrics). From the mouth of Maria, their effervescent nunin-training from “The Sound of Music,” comes the following antidote for when she’s feeling down:

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens

Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens

Brown paper packages tied up with strings

These are a few of my favorite things

Cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudels

Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles

Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings

These are a few of my favorite things.

She has quite a few more favorite things than just a fork.

But isn’t that the idea? From a fork to whiskers on kittens to sleigh bells… all of a sudden the world becomes more appreciated and loved. The more things we can love the happier we’ll be, and the happier we’ll be, the more people we can appreciate and love. And the more people we can love… well, isn’t that what the great teachers and religions have asked us to do for more millennia than we care to count?

There’s a state of consciousness that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has called glorified Cosmic Consciousness, in which an enlightened person has come to appreciate the most subtle aspects of everything there is, when life literally glows, lit up by an unearthly light. It reminds me again of yet another songwriting duo: Stephen Sondheim (lyrics) and Leonard Bernstein (music) – whose Romeo and Juliet-like Tony and Maria in “West Side Story” have come to see the world shining around them because of their newfound love for each other:

Tonight, tonight The world is full of light With suns and moons all over the place.

Today, the world was just an address A place for me to live in No better than all right But here you are And what was just a world is a star Tonight.


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