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Scheme of Things

Small Pleasures
By Nan S. Russell
Oct 11, 2012 - 6:21:51 PM

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Only a few miles into Glacier National Park, a momma grizzly, followed diligently by three first-year cubs, briskly walked across the road a few yards ahead. Even in northwestern Montana this kind of sighting is a rare treat.

How many times have I been on this road? Fifty? A hundred? Two hundred? Each one accompanied by beautiful outdoor pleasures: an overflowing spring river, a forested fall tapestry, a majestic summer sunset, a topped off wintry peak. But this time the delight was an unexpected one.

That bear family showed themselves for perhaps thirty seconds, yet seeing them even briefly delighted my day. Like the Dutch proverb proclaims, "For the concert of life, no one receives a program."

If I'd been reading emails, I'd have missed them. How many times are we too busy texting, too engaged in our "important" phone conversations, or too numbed by in-car entertainment systems to catch a glimpse of such natural wonders? How often do we miss the unexpected pleasures in our lives?

It may not be a grizzly family of four where you live, but did you notice the early buds on the trees last spring or the near-explosion of this year's fall colors? Did you glimpse the teenager helping an elderly woman figure out the bus schedule, or notice the man who gave his seat to a pregnant mom with a toddler in hand? Did you savor an unexpected pleasure today?

I admit, some days I'm numb to the outside world. I'm engrossed in the next writing deadline, the next speech to deliver, the next client to meet. I'm busy doing. These are the days I look past the robin fashioning a nest outside my door, or fail to catch the sun's glitter on the lake I can see from my office window. These are the days when life's concert is still playing, but I haven't tuned her in. These days blur together and unravel my energy.

But as soon as I'm awake to small pleasures, the blur diminishes. A mind-photo of momma bear with cubs makes the day stand out. So does seeing children outside playing and laughing, breathing in crisp mountain air, or appreciating the diverse forest of trees. My day is enriched just by the noticing.

What I've found, in the scheme of things, is every day holds small unexpected pleasures, both outdoors and in. Even on difficult days, there's a hand offered in kindness, a stranger's smile, a new flower blooming, a great sunset, or a compassionate heart reaching for ours. We only need to look up for a few seconds to see them. Unexpected pleasures breathe life into me and stir my spirit. I'm grateful for these joyful seconds of wonder, inspiration, connection, and hope.

(c) 2012 Nan S. Russell. All Rights Reserved.

Nan S. Russell is the award-winning author of "Hitting Your Stride: Your Work, Your Way." Her third book, "The Titleless Leader," was published May 2012. More about Nan and her work can be found at  Sign up to receive Nan's free monthly eColumn at:

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