March 18, 2007

It is a Happy Birthday: Delighting in Small Pleasures

Today is my birthday. I haven't exactly looked forward to a birthday since the year I turned 21. Birthdays can serve as a sobering reminder that one has not accomplished many of one's goals, that one is marching toward death, or simply than one is feeling more of the effects of the natural aging process. But I really haven't been thinking about any of that today. Instead, I have been enjoying some of the small pleasures which I often take for granted without stopping to consider how their sum is associated with my happiness.

I sit here this morning with a large cup of coffee and optimism to face the day. I watched a beautiful sunrise this morning, and my RSS aggregator is collecting posts from the atheist blogosphere for my perusal. I plan to digest the contents of the latest Carnival of the Godless while I drink my coffee and my dog sleeps at my feet. If these clouds clear, I will eventually make my way outside with my camera to see what inspiration I might discover. Sitting perfectly still so as not to spook the birds that make their homes in the trees around my house, I might get lucky and snap a picture of one of the more elusive ones I've been after. But even if I miss the perfect shot, the birdsong, warm sun, and alert relaxation will bring peace, just as they always do.

Atheists may be many things, and we are accused of being many more. Still, I've never quite understood the accusation that we are nihilists. At least, this is something with which I have never been able to relate. I don't need a lot of money, power, or superstition to be happy or to find meaning. All the joy and meaning I could ever desire is to be found in the small pleasures.

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