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Little Things Mean a Lot

I couldn’t help but think of the Charles Bukowski poem about broken shoelaces sending a man to a madhouse. The point is little things—good and bad—really do mean a lot.

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I have a few not-so-guilty (anymore) pleasures that I indulge in regularly. First on Saturday I try to get up early in the morning to complete my chores just so I can luxuriate in a long nap late in the afternoon. If I’ve been good about exercising, once a week I visit a bakery for a piece of vanilla cake with icing. And five years ago after a hiatus of almost twenty years, I took up the habit of watching the soaps again. Right now I have a few pet soap operas that I record on my DVR every weekday.

Treats are great, but here’s what I don’t like about them. If something happens and I’m denied my little indulgences, I feel a profound sense of loss that seems disproportionate to the treat itself.

In fact, one day awhile ago I was all set to watch my then favorite soap—Guiding Light—when I found out modern technology had failed me. For some mysterious reason the show didn’t record. This wouldn’t have been a big deal on most days since I fast forward through a majority of it anyway. But this was supposed to be a big day for my favorite couple. Of all days for the system to act up, I couldn’t believe it. I was heartbroken over this one missed episode. I hated this feeling and wished it would just go away!

The only thing I could liken it to was when I was a little girl and had the misfortune of missing my favorite musical, The Sound of Music, when it aired. Back in the 1970s, no one had ever heard of VCRs and DVRs and the stations only showed The Sound of Music once a year. Oh how I cried when I thought of having to wait another 365 days before I could see it again.

Considering all of the things I’ve been through since I grew up—the pain of childbirth, the loss of jobs, conflicts with family, transitioning from suburban life to city life etc, etc, you’d think I could handle missing one episode of a soap, especially when I knew there’d be others.

Of course I did handle it. I didn’t fall apart, but the disappointment stayed with me all night. And because I was so agonized over this missed soap, I considered not recording any future episodes. If something this small had so much power over me, I reasoned, then perhaps it’s not healthy. I couldn’t help but think of the Charles Bukowski poem about broken shoelaces sending a man to a madhouse. The point is little things—good and bad—really do mean a lot.

Upon further reflection I realized that I shouldn’t deny myself things that could potentially disappoint me. I won’t live like that anymore, on a desperate mission not to get hurt. Avoiding something I enjoy because one bad day would also rob me of many more good days to come.

In fact I decided to do the exact opposite and add more pleasures so that if something happens to one, there’s still something else to look forward to. If I don’t get my soap, then I have a carefully selected Brenda Jackson novel just waiting to be opened and enjoyed.

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