Simple Pleasures

Profile picture for Paul Kiczek on January 27, 2021

The challenge was “What simple pleasures in life do you enjoy?”. This question forced me to think about what I take for granted and yet value, even if they seem like small parts of my life. Unfortunately, you soon realize that many simple pleasures have had to be forgone these days. Here’s to recognizing and enjoying them again in the near future.

Hugging the Kiddies

At this time, I’m particularly wanting to hug and hold my grandkids. With the pandemic safety guidelines, it’s been nearly impossible. Although, we’ve bent the rules several times I can’t help but feel guilty when I do. Making this empty feeling even worse has been the birth of my two new granddaughters this year, Maeve and Claire, both of which I have rarely held.

Before Covid-19, I always had a special joy in greeting the kids with a BIG hug. They knew that I would shout their names and open up my arms wide and we would collide together. The surprise would be how tight the hug would be and for how long. I would lift them in the air or squeeze them tight or maybe just do a big group hug. Frankly, I never knew myself what it would be and just let my emotional self take over. From my perspective it was laughter, shouts and relief, as if we had not seen each other for years. It was about as pure a moment of joy as I could imagine. I can’t wait to do it again.

Experiencing Live Music

    Mary Ann and I evolved into senior groupies over the last few years, seeking out music at a concert, bar or pizza joint where we could hear our favorite musicians playing live music. We re-discovered that we shared an interest in the same artists and type of music. It started with free concerts at the beach in the summer in Seaside Heights and at Ruthie’s in Montclair where we began to follow certain performers, like Sean Tobin and Dean Shot. Needless to say, all of this is on hold. Although we have been able to tune into some live performances online and even attend a drive-up concert, it’s not the same vibe as being close to the performer and part of the crowd.

Riding a Bike

Fortunately, riding a bike is still possible and continues to be my favorite outdoor sport. It may be even more accessible these days. Early in the year, group riding was avoided but as 2020 rolled on we found it was possible to ride safely since most ride within a safe distance of each other while in a group and masks are generally not used.

One of the surprises of the pandemic was that there were fewer cars on the road making riding easier. The simple pleasure of coffee and donuts after the ride at the Swiss Chalet Bakery was limited by the need to use a mask and social distance, but that was a small price to pay to continue to enjoy cycling and the company of friends.

Walking

I took walking for granted until 1963 when the Kennedys and the press challenged America to walk 50 miles. It was at once a crazy challenge and a motivation for the average person to open up their imagination and see what were their physical limits. I attempted the challenge as a teenager but never forgot how something simple like walking could motivate and represent the ultimate personal challenge.

When I reached the ripe age of 60 over 10 years ago, my memory drove me to try again and explore the simple pleasures and challenges that walking can provide for everyone. The organization I started to motivate everyone to walk called FreeWalkers is now a vibrant non-profit. Today, I’m still a daily walker with an occasional long distance walk as an ongoing challenge in my life.

Viewing Sunrises and Sunsets

Just 90 miles away from Morristown we are fortunate to have a summer home in Ortley Beach. Our house is on an 25-mile long narrow island and is across the street from Barnegat Bay and 3/4 mile away from the ocean. You can’t help but marvel at the beauty of every sunrise and sunset over the water. While we love living in Morristown, the Jersey shore offers many unique pleasures we didn’t fully appreciate until we bought a place there.

Gardening

I’ve always like to grow things since I was a kid planting seeds. As an adult each summer I’ve had a backyard garden planting the usual tomatoes, peppers, squash, beans, lettuce, etc. It’s a special kind of magic to see something grow in weeks or months. Our town started a community garden about five years ago and now I can learn more and share the joy with others while growing my own organic vegetables. Its a labor of love and a win-win experience to enjoy and renew each year.

Dining In & Out

While I miss dining out lately, I still have plenty to be thankful for and enjoy thanks to Mary Ann and her cooking skills. Faithfully, for over 40 years, she has patiently been the master chef of our house and our entire family. It’s fun to watch my son and daughter become great cooks and the grandkids learn to bake cookies with her. Sometimes I act as her sous chef, but its all her show. I’m a lucky guy to enjoy a home cooked meal almost daily.

And the rest…

I could easily go on about IPA beer, a great wine, outstanding pizza, morning coffee, the sound of kids playing, a good book, an interesting movie, Ted Lasso, great photos, vacations (when available), family, love of pets, working with great people, the blessing of having a great challenge to work toward, etc., etc. And there’s no time like the present to appreciate the little things we have … and don’t have for now.

Paul Kiczek, January 27, 2021