It's easy to get bogged down in the mundane things of life and to forget the incredible value of simple everyday pleasures. Today my friends collected me and took me for lunch. P is my best friend, a term that doesn't even nearly touch on the relationship we share, and W is her husband, and therefore my second brother. In no way related we are family, and as such we have inherited each other's families as well. After a delicious lunch we went to visit their Auntie L. 83yr old Auntie L is confined to her upstairs flat and is oxygen dependant. She receives continuous oxygen via nasal cannulae (2 plastic prongs that sit inside her nostrils) 24 hours a day. She has maximum input health/social care that means she has no choice about when to get up, get washed, eat and go to bed. She cannot leave her flat. If anyone has the right to be depressed or frustrated it is, without a doubt, Auntie L. We were there for a couple of hours during which, as usual, she regaled us with tales of her youth, laughing so hard that she kept having to pause to get her breath back and dab the tears of mirth from her merry eyes. She loves to laugh and is entirely without self-pity. She is outrageous, hillarious, brave, accepting and wonderful. She reminds me to be thankful inspite of circumstances and to climb out of the mud-bath of self-pity that we all wallow in from time to time. She reminds me to take nothing for granted.
Returning home this evening in a thoughtful and slightly ashamed frame of mind, I drove down to the beach with the dogs. Dogs are so enthusiastic and joyous that they too, lighten the heart. Out on the beach in the grey and pinky-gold twilight that surprised the dullness of the day, they run for sheer joy of it.
Rolf, as always, is shadowed by his faithful friend Chico. Truth be told, I suspect that Rolf views the faithful Chico as something equivalent to an irritating gnat, but for Chico it's a love fest. And what he doesn't know won't hurt him so we don't let on. Most other dogs wouldn't tolerate Chico's obsessive devotion but Rolf, despite his appalling history, is the most gentle of animals. And anyway, Chico may not be blood related but he's family and it's not his fault that he's...er...complex.
Tess gambles about, doing her own thing but always there. In their own way they love each other and have an incredible loyalty to their pack. I know exactly where they're coming from. As I bumble slowly along in my stop/start/rest way, I reflect on the day and I'm thankful that I can bumble at all.
Friends, family and freedom. Laughter. An empty beach and a beautiful sunset. Running dogs. Happiness is an every day thing, if only we care to look.