Finding Joy in the Little Things

In 2020, COVID-19 struck the world and transformed how society functions. Since then, everyone has formed new ways to keep busy and maintain sanity during a time of uncertainty. Every college student has felt the loss of a traditional college experience and missing out on a major developmental chapter in young adulthood. Navigating how to thrive in a global pandemic is not easy, but it’s the little things that bring a sense of positive distraction from stressors that can keep us going. 

Before being sent home from campus last March, I never realized the influence of enjoying the small things in life during a time where it might be difficult to hold onto hope for the future. Regardless of managing in a global pandemic, finding and enjoying the little things is so beneficial for self-care and mental health. Staying at home in small-town, rural Maine, so small that it doesn’t even have a stoplight and has only one corner store, can be extremely boring.

At the end of my road is a random tennis court and a rusty swing set that doesn’t get used often, and yet it stands. Every day on my drive home from work or whatnot, I notice that the desolate swing set is occupied by a girl who looks about my age. At the same time, almost daily, she parks her car by the tennis court and swings by herself, no matter how gloomy the day may seem. In a dead middle-of-nowhere town, time and again, back and forth, she harmoniously swings. When I drive by her, I get this sense of wonder and admire how content she is just consistently swinging by herself. 

This habit of hers is somewhat inspiring because she stays present in the moment and doesn’t mind the passersby and drivers that may catch her swinging. Every time I see her, I also think about how hesitant I would be to swing alone without having a care in the world about who sees. Then I question why I would feel embarrassed or hesitant about that, and no logical thought explains it, other than the fear of what someone might think if they recognized me. Seeing her has made me realize, even if it’s not swinging, why should I feel uncomfortable doing something just for the fun of it and that brings joy? If it’s something that adds a bit of peace and comfort to life, who cares?

I’ve always wanted to have a conversation with her, just to understand her outlook on life. But I don’t want to interrupt her peace or draw attention to something she enjoys doing. Just seeing her swing all the time has taught me enough. Even when the pandemic eases, doing things strictly for yourself and by yourself, is so healthful no matter how big or small. I think we can all learn something from the girl on the swing: To appreciate the little things in life and live intentionally.

todo list Photo by Emma Matthews Digital Content Production from Unsplash