things that give you pleasure

You’ve slept deeply for many hours on cool, smooth sheets. The window to your bedroom is open and a breeze blows in. The air is sweet and smells faintly of the sea. You wake with an unnamed longing. You drift back to sleep - but you sleep only lightly then - until morning. 

Finding a letter that someone wrote to you long ago. The ink has faded and holding the paper in your hands, you think it might dissolve at your touch. You can still read the lines though. The small, perfectly formed letters.

It’s extremely pleasing to see a photograph of yourself as a child with your mother and your father in the frame, watching you as you hold your hand out to feed the ducks who encircle you near the pond, in the park, where the ancient trees give shade. 

It’s also pleasing when you are in the company of people you admire, and someone you love a great deal is talking about something that has happened in the past, or a subject he has just learned about, or something he has heard discussed in the news, and when he speaks, he looks at you. He singles you out to look at you. 

Then there’s the pleasing moment when you’ve heard that someone important to you who is far away - perhaps in some distant place, or even elsewhere in your city - has had a small misfortune, perhaps has fallen ill, and you have worried and are worrying and wringing your hands  with concern, when news arrives that she has taken a turn for the better. 

Someone you love is praised by others. 

When something that you have made - a poem you have written or a small tapestry you have woven by hand - is talked about by other people in a way that you can know about it. It comes up in conversation with someone who says, “Your talents are not inconsiderable.” 

It is very pleasing when you sit next to a stranger on a crowded train and she tells you something that you did not know. And then the story that she told you comes up in conversation later, when you are in bed with your lover and the delightful moment when you cry out, “Oh, that is where it comes from!” and you enjoy recalling the stranger’s mention of it. 

Finding something you thought you had lost forever. Misplacing it again, but then finding it again, quickly. 

How could you not feel pleased when you win at a game? An archery match or some other competition that tests your physical skills. Or that tests the quickness of your mind. 

When someone you have loved who no longer loves you meets with some misfortune in love. You are pleased even though you know this is very wicked of you. 

You’ve sent a letter to someone far away and you expect to wait a long time for his response, but his letter back to you arrives quickly and with stories you have not heard before. 

It’s very pleasing when you recover from a long sickness. This could be a sickness of the body or of the mind. 

And it’s wonderfully pleasing when you wake from a night of troubled dreams and your jaw aches from clenching your teeth so tightly in your sleep and there is a small pain in your head like a point of hot white light that is growing larger and brighter, but when you finally open your eyes and become aware that you are no longer dreaming and you realize that you are in your own bed in the arms of someone you love and that the arms of this person are holding you in way you would want to be held for a very long time. For days, perhaps, or maybe even years. 

–(inspired by and indebted to The Pillow Book, Sei Shonagon: “[257] Things that give you pleasure”)