Tag Archive: nature

The Small Things in Life

I’m a true believer that being happy all the time is completely unnatural. Smiling all the time is for the demented.

That being said, its good to go through a funk and its good to come back out of one. The process itself is a journey that takes work. But it is an experience that teaches and forces us to grow a bit more every time we take it and the novelty and sense of wonder and satisfaction only grows the older we get. The more we go through the more we appreciate the small things in life. Recently, I’ve been putting more effort into getting back to the things I enjoy. Along the way, I’m rediscovering very small things that I haven’t done in months or years that I’ve forgotten bring me pleasure.

Here is a list of just a few of my favorite things.

1. Laughing hysterically because I can’t stop. Not because I’m drunk. Not because I’m putting on a smile for the world, but because it’s just that damned funny. Laughter. I love it and I don’t have enough of it. I’m on an eternal search to find things that make me laugh because the world is a sad sorry place if I can’t laugh at the absurdity of it all.

2. Attending a decent party with lots of good food, low-key music, and good company. Those are the best times. Times when you can have a decent conversation with someone new and reconnect with extended acquaintances.  These parties are best when they’re full of laughter. And beer.

3. Reading. Books, articles, stories, who cares? Reading. Reading for pleasure, reading for pain, reading to feel something different and escape our own lives. It’s like watching my own personal movie in my head. The story might not be mine, but my imagination is; every time I read a book it grows and extends in directions I never thought possible.

4. Sitting in the sunshine. Beautiful days. Sitting in the sunshine, even in the city, can turn my whole day around. The air smells lighter, my mood is lighter, everything is better, and shinier, and new.

5. Crossword puzzles. A good crossword can keep me occupied for hours. The maddening frustration of not being able to figure it out is enjoyable.  I’m a sucker for punishment.

6. Putting on make up. I love it. I love the smell of it. I love the rush of finding new eye shadow that looks good on me, or new eye liner. New lipstick or chapstick. I put it on everyday. Not because it makes me look beautiful, although it certainly doesn’t hurt. Not because other girls admire it, though I appreciate it when they do. Certainly not for the few guys that manage to notice it, because let’s be honest here. Make up is completely lost on guys. I like it for the sheer pleasure of feeling good. Sure. I can go out without make-up and know I look good. But I like it. I’ll never be an artist, a painter, nor a  singer.  I’m no designer, nor am I crafty. But I can paste that shit on every day and feel like I’ve created my own masterpiece right on my face. And that’s cool.

7. Beer. What can  I say? It’s the alcoholic in me. I love beer. I deeply love IPAs. Some of the best breweries and the best beers I’ve ever tasted have come out of Michigan. I like a cold brew in the summer, a cold brew in the winter. The best brew is kicking back outside on a porch or in the yard with a friend or two for company and some music.

8. Music. Classic rock, alternative rock. Techno. Hip hop. It’s gotten in my blood and I can’t let it go. A good song comes on my iPod and my whole day shines.

9. Fruit.  Green grapes, grapefruit, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, blue berries, I can almost feel their juices gushing down my throat. Papayas, raspberries, apples. Shit, I’ll even eat a watermelon. I love them. I think the only fruit I’ve ever encountered that I truly didn’t like were mandarins, because they’re just lame imitation oranges anyway.

10.  Things that shine and shimmer. I love it. I don’t even care what it is. It appeals to my eyes and makes me want to smile. I guess because I associate it with magic. I wish. I really wish that there was magic in the world. But since there’s not, the next best thing will do. Shimmer and shine, scintillate and gleam. The words themselves are a pleasure.

11. The color blue. Its true. I’m coming out and just admitting it. Green isn’t my favorite color. I’m not sure it ever was. It’s blue. It’s always been blue. Blue.  I love you. You make me happy.

12. Hitting the gym. Nothing like pushing your body to clear your mind. Here its even more fun to watch the Taiwanese guys’ jaws drop when they see a girl actually lifting some weights. My face might not show it, but I’m laughing on the inside.

13. Virtually all outdoor activities make me happy. I’ll go ahead and clump in swimming, hiking, biking and everything else into one.

14. A clean apartment. It’s always such a pain in the ass to  clean, but the feeling of general well-being afterwards is worth it every time.

15. Being in nature and fresh flowers.

So those are just a few of my favorite things. I have many more where that came from.

What picks you up when you’re down? What did you just recently rediscover you loved?

Last week was 10/10 day in Taiwan, which is known as Taiwan’s national holiday. So we all got a day off and were very happy and excited. I decided to go with a couple of friends to Yelio GeoPark on the north coast of Taiwan. It’s not a big park but it has some amazing rock formations dating back…a long time. The link provides a bit of brief history. After grabbing lunch we got to the park and I saw a guy there that I had accidentally bumped into in the restroom earlier that day. He was hanging out with his friends just inside the entrance. As soon as he spotted me, he made a beeline over and asked if he could take a picture with me. I swear. This happens every time I venture outside of Taipei. For as many people who have random pictures of me posted all over face book I should be famous. Why aren’t I? My two girlfriends, Nina and Jersey, looked shocked. I don’t think they understood what was happening or what the guy wanted at first, but at this point I’m pretty used to it. I thought about refusing (it crossed my mind to charge him) but then decided not to be a dick and just take the picture. At least he asked. As soon as I said yes, his entire group of friends leaped up to cram themselves into the shot. I made the girls pose too. If I had to do it then it’s only fair that they should too. They ended up snapping a couple before we extricated ourselves. It gets a little annoying but I have to laugh. I don’t think I’ve ever asked someone to take a picture with me unless they were famous. Not even then come to think of it.

Approaching the promontory.

Yelio is amazing. The rock formations are unique. The hoodoo stones look like gigantic stone bulbs planted on top of long thick stems made of sandstone. We walked around a few of them occasionally stepping near the surf. Nina got yelled at by the park guides for stepping over the red line painted near the edge of the cliffs. I get yelled at for touching one of the stones. Those guys take their job seriously. However, the area I liked the best was the promontory away from the actual formations. Step-by-step, as we walked further and further along the promontory, it began to feel we were entering another world. The sound of people and the city fell away, with only the occasional sounds being carried by the wind. The area was peaceful and quiet. We walked into a small cave that led back out to the promontory, and meandered down the coast for

Nina and Jersey in front of the cave.

probably an hour. It was the cleanest coast I’ve ever seen in Taiwan, and the most exotic. The entire promontory appeared to be made of sandstone. Hundreds of pools littered the stone near the water, constantly pounded by the relentless surf. The wind picked up and the sun was blotted out of the sky, but despite threatening to rain, we only had to endure occasional sprinkles. The sandstone was covered with hundreds of ridges layered one on top of the other. We chanced on a cliff overlooking the coast with a pack of wild dogs lolling around at its top. One stood, king of all he surveyed, and stared down at us curiously for a time. Another made his way down and picked through the sand for something to eat. There were areas completely covered by sandstone, with unique formations in every direction. In many areas water had etched away at the stone leaving behind beautifully carved lines in hues of red, orange, and copper. I could have stayed there for hours.

This doesn’t show the half of it.

Eventually, we made our way back and explored more of the hoodoo stones, but time was running short and we had a bus to catch. While we waited, we walked through the tourist market and picked up fried fish full of roe, and toasted fish flavored with sesame seeds. They are a common snack in Taiwan and I because I’d had them before, I picked up a bag for myself. We couldn’t stay all day, regretfully, but I found this trip to be an enjoyable excursion from Taipei. I definitely recommend an afternoon at Yehlio.

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