Sunday, May 6, 2007

Smelling the Deli Slices

Our wise blog-mentor and favorite poet, Emily, responded to our last blog thus: "Amazing, how much life wants to live. As long as there are deli slices and one is able to smell them, that is something."

As always, Emily gave me much to think about with that one spare line. The whole matter of life wanting to live sets off clusters of questions. Why do some lives want so fiercely to live, despite the odds against happiness, contentment, or freedom from pain, while other lives seem to have such a tenuous hold on the precious spark, even when all the externals run smoothly? I remember a 10th grade social science textbook that spoke about "emotional hardiness," admitting that research had yet to explain the why of that durable state.

But it's the deli slices that interest me today. As Emily reminds us, often dark and difficult--or just plain blah-- days are made easier by the simplest, most random things. Never has this point be made more convincingly than in Solzhenitsyn's "A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich." One reviewer recounts: "Prisoners take great pleasure in minor victories such as soup actually containing protein (albeit fish bones), a shelter to block the wind when the temperature falls to -40, or standing near someone who is smoking and getting the residual tobacco from his cigarette holder. "

Emily's comment got me musing about my own deli slices--the small things that are cheering when the day itself is not. Good to remind oneself of those from time to time. And interesting how very basic the "deli slices" usually are. Five of my faves might include: chocolate (of course) ; small, wondrous finches lunching on birdseed beyond the kitchen window; a spot of email from a distant friend, passing on the title of a good book, or gossip about a friend who'd dropped below the radar; finishing the blasted Times Sunday crossword puzzle by Tuesday.

And your deli slices? What "minor victories" give you great pleasure?

1 comment:

Emily said...

Thanks, Bellabell.
Last summer there was an ice cream truck that rolled by my office around 3:30 p.m. every day. A certain Mexican-style coconut ice cream bar was $1.50 of pure happiness (and it doesn't take much, when it's that pure). Driver and I were on a first name basis, so much that we started alerting one another of any changes in our schedule. Had to chase him about 2 blocks once.