Simple mind, simple pleasures

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I drew this is grade one. Crayon on two sleaves of open project book

One of my favourite sayings is “simple mind, simple pleasures” whenever someone gets unusually excited about something particularly prosaic. And I say it secretly, or not-so-secretly, knowing I am stupidly afflicted by this condition. And because I can’t emulate what awesomeness Carl Sagan has consistently spewed out about the universe — this is my humble look at how primal we are — or at least how medieval and obsessed with regression I still seem to be.

And so here are some very ordinary things that make me go a bit funny inside and pretty much all of them hark back to that long-dead line of humanity that preceded me.

1) Clean sheets

Brand new sheets are like a brand new sleep-skin. I think at the heart of the matter is that we are greasy — us humans. And being free of that only slightly-perceptible greasy feeling is cool. Plus sleep is both cool and a constant frustration. And anything that makes this task more interesting presumably has benefits on both sides of that equation.

2) The Womb

I don’t think I need to explain why womb-like states that this modern world occasionally throws at us are usually spine-tinglingly-sublime. The first time I realised I was acutely attracted to these situations was when I was about 8 and I would get up in the morning and run a bath and while the tub filled I would crawl up in a ball, completely inside my dressing gown, head included, and assume this trance for the 2 or 3 minutes that blissful occasion allowed. But nowadays, I don’t get many opportunities for bathing. Indeed this house is the first place in almost 25 years that I have had working bathtub — and it seems too much effort.

Rain at night, or in the early morning is probably the most prolific of this notion. Although sometimes however I will get SO excited and be SO intent on listening to the rain and SO warm and fuzzy in my doona-cocoon I will forget to fall asleep and be in a higher sense of awareness, and consequently a very un-womb-like state, than before the rain started.

3) Reading on the toilet

The other day I put a book I wanted Dee to consider reading on the floor near the toilet. And guess what? A day later she was like, “I started reading [insert book title]…” This, just quietly by the way, is a cryptic way of saying what I truly want to say. Again, just quietly.

4) Fire

Fire is also another facet of everyday life our ancestors saw almost constantly. But these days fire is almost secret. We can look up at the sun I guess, or give a dodgy smoker-leper standing awkwardly in some shadowy recess beside their workplace a more intense consideration — but rarely do we see flame. And very, very rarely do we build a fire and watch that incredible activity.

Trees are made of air and burning wood is like releasing the sun

Just the other day I saw this. And if you can’t be bothered watching, it is a fucking amazing tale told by a long-dead theoretical physicist called Richard Feynman who says that carbon dioxide is what makes plants. They are made almost entirely of AIR. They suck all that CO2 and love the carbon but throw away the oxygen as waste (and only take trace elements from the soil to make their structure). And to break apart the CO2 to expose the goodness of carbon they crave – and because CO2 loves to stick together – they use the immense power of sunlight. And then when they are chopped down to make a log in a fire all that carbon (and oxygen from the air) get together again — cause they love it so much — and drift away in the smoke. But the very, very, very cool part is — is that the fire you see from the tree burning — all part of the photosynthesis equation — is actually the light of the sun released again through flame. HOW COOL IS THAT?

5) Water

Fully submerging yourself in water is something I rarely get around to doing. And it’s awesomeness is reflected in point (2). But swimming in the sea and even the pool is a state of being I don’t go out of my way to indulge in — but fully appreciate once I am there.

6) Laughter (Plus tickling or having someone draw on your back)

Again I read recently somewhere how tickling is one of the first conversations between parent and child. I wholeheartedly agree — but I would also suggest that when a child aquires the intelect to laugh — that is their very first positive reciprocated social interaction. And it doesn’t always take tickling to seduce the act of laughing in a baby.

There was a game we would play as kids. Someone would draw a word on my back and I would have to guess. I would secretly pretend I didn’t recognise the word so they would have to draw it all over again. And maybe again. And if it was my turn to draw I would dig my finger in and be very specific about my curves so they could not help but know the answer and it would be my turn again. Your spine and the blades of your shoulders and the bits around the kidneys have to be some of the most sensitive areas of your body. But this said I gotmy first proper paid-for back massage in Hong Kong last year and it almost killed me. Massages are one thing – drawing is another.

And it is just like that “orgazmatron” craze of a few years back. Very similar vibe.

7) Eating
I am just putting food down cause if I don’t someone will say, what about food? It doesn’t require any more intelectuallizing from me.

8) Smell

I know smell is one of the oldest senses. And I get that feeling occasionally. Like about 10 years ago when I smelt this particular diesel smell that raked me back to Lady Elliot Island when I was 4 and on the back of a trailor being led by my uncle’s tractor. But in this toxic world with all its complex gaseous compounds increasingly floating and mixing about — and thus cancelling eachother out — sensing smells that evoke a very old memory is now rare. Indeed as I get older my nose feels like it is the first to decay. Just this year I experienced Spring hayfever for the first time ever. I am getting old.

9) Visiting

Travelling to somewhere you haven’t been to for a long, long time excites all those neurons and electrical pathways in your brain that haven’t been visited for an eternity. Sometimes it feels more orgasmic to visit a place I haven’t seen for decades rather than visit a place I have never been to before. And in this spirit I try not to travel to my favourite places too often just so I can savour their magic. It happened the last time I went to New York. Although it is my favourite place in the world, it was slightly dulled by the fact it had been less than a year since I was last there.

10) Someone explaining something to you

I’ve saved this one for last because it is perhaps the craziest of these. And it looks so innocent and everyday, but I presume this only applies to me. I don’t really know why — but I could have a great crack at guessing with my shitty PY101/102 skillz.

And it began in year 5 when Mrs Fihelly taught me long division, just one-on-one, because I was away sick the day before when the rest of the class got taught this pretty intrinsic lesson. And that intimate moment felt so good there was a buzz through my whole body. A buzz only equatable to a fix of drugs that lasted only a second or two. It was literally a feeling of such pleasure I couldn’t concentrate on anything else. And so Mrs Fihelly had to go through it one more time and although she was annoyed — I wasn’t.

Maybe I had a crush on my teacher, but maybe I just loved the profoundness of learning something that seemed so important that the teacher had made the class do something entirely else while she devoted time to making sure I caught up. Maybe it was a combination of the two. Regardless of the reason, I have felt that feeling many, many more times since and it was like a cosmic echo of that moment back in grade 5. It was always the same sort of deal — someone teaching or explaining me something. Entirely surreal.

OTHERS
I am sure there are others — feel free to tell me yours. Ones that didn’t make this cut include the obvious one (birthdays) — but also — wearing a new outfit fr the first time; the first buzz of booze; the moment you realise someone is attracted to you as well; looking at the stars; A cat on your lap; Lego etc

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2 thoughts on “Simple mind, simple pleasures

  1. water, and being in it, is something i’ve only come to really properly appreciate in the last maybe five years. certainly since being with annie. i rarely went outside as a child, i was quite bookish. hard to imagine now, i know. but annie was raised in the outdoor and indeed in pools and lakes and the ocean. nowadays, floating in a lake or on a calm beach on or in a floaty toy is the most relaxing activity i’ve experienced, and is something i look forward to whenever we go away. it’s the closest i get to meditation.

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