My fever had left me barely able to walk from one room to the other, forget doing the hundred things a mother has on her checklist every single day. My husband had an assignment to submit at work the very next day and my son was at his crankiest worst.
Seeing how my 4-year-old wouldn’t let me out of his sight even for a moment, my husband got me to lock the bedroom and get a nap. As I nestled my head into the pillow, he scooped my son into his arms and cradled him to sleep whilst entertaining him with stories that I could faintly hear him giggling to.
On an ordinary day, or in one of my moods, I would have said parenting is all about sharing responsibilities without making a big deal of small acts of kindness. But, on that day, at that very moment, this little gesture occupied the greatest share of my heart as it had made my life richer in an inexplicable way.
It reminded me of a video (at the end of the page) I had come across, by The School of Life – a global organisation dedicated to developing emotional intelligence. The video talks about how the smallness of small pleasures isn’t really an assessment of how much they have to offer us; it is a reflection of how many good things we unfairly neglect in our lives.
It says that a pleasure may look very minor, but if properly grasped and elaborated upon, these sort of activities may be among the most moving and satisfying we can have.
We all know in our hearts that after the shine of the diamond has waned and the euphoria of compliments after a raise at work has settled, it is the warm feeling of being cared for and loved that we all want to return to. And yet, how many times do we care to tell a spouse who has accepted the role of a caretaker that it’s because of them that we get to work peacefully, knowing that the child is in safe and cared hands? Or let a breadwinning partner know that it’s because of them that we enjoy the bigger pleasures like a home or a dream vacation? Do we really care to tell a spouse who’s a good cook that it is they who make mealtimes feel like a much-awaited experience? Or an expressive partner that it is they who make our life worth living? No; we don’t feel the need to do it every single time, because we think they ought to know it. And unconsciously, in relationships, what was exciting transforms to being monotonous, special turns ordinary and life becomes drudgery even before one realises it.
When we appreciate small pleasures, it only means that we are trusting our own responses a little more. But we are dominated by striving, as the video says, for better relationships, work and personal lives. Restless, we think, is synonymous with successful. Nothing should be good enough for long. But, in so concerning ourselves with unattainable levels of excellence, we overlook more modest pleasures that are closer home.
Why do we fall out of giddy bouts of romance? Or the warmth of a happy marriage? And yet can’t stop looking for it everywhere around us? Because we seek the adrenaline that initial love offers without realising that even after it has waned off, life continues to be extraordinary in little moments. We are in a race to capture perfect moments and perfect happiness in precisely the perfect way we imagined it. We grow apart not only because we grow out of respect, understanding and tenderness, but even more because we grow out of hugs, kisses and moments of giving and receiving praise.
Related reading: On Shiva, Parvati, and showing up well for partners
So while there’s nothing wrong in loving madly and deeply, making crazy professions to see a loved one blush, surprising with treats and treasures, let’s most importantly learn to recognise and appreciate beauty in little things that a loved one does for us. For we might not realise that in a hectic world where things often seem spiralling out of control, a shared cup of coffee, a warm hug, an unexpected compliment or a loving pat is all that one often needs to heal.
Divya Nair Hinge
From the Editor’s Desk, Bonobology