So many of life’s simple pleasures, once an important part of every day, seem elusive and obscured by the frenzy of our world. Reading a good book, stimulating conversation, the joy of watching children make discoveries, quiet moments of solitary contemplation, the pleasure of biting into a juicy apple or vine-ripened tomato still warm from the garden: all are harder to savor. Parents are caught up in their children’s activities, children seem to require constant stimulation, attention spans grow shorter, patience, once called a virtue, is mistaken for indifference or ennui.

I miss the excitement of the classroom. For me teaching was a calling. I treasured the “aha” moments of student comprehension. I looked forward to the start of the school year and to each morning with its promise.

These days I feel guilty taking a couple hours to read or write or just breathe. So many chores need doing; there are weeds to pull, closets to clean, clutter to sort, recipes to try, little jobs to tend to. I hear friends talk about their busy lives, and I try not to feel as if I’m missing something. I need to step back, see my world and the pleasant environment it provides, appreciate what is without longing for what is not.

On a day when another war may start, a storm may disrupt someone’s life, fear in some form may attack someone’s security, I will be mindful of the little things that give me a sense of purpose and bring me peace.