When I was a kid, everyone burned leaves in the fall. I always enjoyed it so much. It was a happy time. Man, that smell was amazing and you couldn’t go anywhere without smelling it. Of course now I know that it is a major source of air pollution and those of us that live inside the city limits are restricted from doing it. I don’t think I would burn them anyway, choosing to compost instead.
The whole family would engage in raking the yard and the reward was burning the leaves. The thick gray smoke would pour out like liquid clouds and we would run through it. Afterward, we smelled like smoke, but we didn’t care. I would wager that most people under the age of 30 have never even raked leaves into a pile, let alone burn them.
Growing up in north Georgia in the late 60’s, my 3 brothers and I would camp out most of the summer and burn anything and everything on our campfire. At the end of summer there wouldn’t be a stick, pine cone, or needle on the ground. We smelled like mountain men and didn’t even notice it. Of course we showered every third day or so and put on clean clothes, but we pretty much lived in our outdoor summer campsite. It was a grand time of adventure and primitive living. I guess you could say we were happy.
The other night when it fell into the 50’s, I beckoned my bride to step outside, as someone was burning wood. I’m not sure if she was impressed like I was, but I stayed out front for sometime and my memories were refreshed. It is the simple things in life that sometimes bring the most pleasure. Someone asked me one time what brings true happiness and I told them it is when you fulfill your duties, or a job well done. Peace and contentment bring real joy also.
Disneyworld is nothing more than entertainment. It doesn’t induce lasting happiness. Standing in front of my house smelling that wood smoke made me happy, as I was living in the past and in the moment and days later I still feel good about it. I was content. Doing good deeds and accomplishing things also bring a sense of well being. In a time when everything is pushed as entertainment, we almost forget that none of it really makes us happy. People go on cruises and vacations and never talk about them afterward.
There is so much hassle and logistics involved to go and do things anymore that when it is all said and done, I’m not sure we got anything more out of it than seeing and doing things – and spent a bunch of money we don’t really have and why? Because we are chasing the illusion of happiness. My dad could sit in one spot and fish all by himself from sunrise to sunset and be as happy as a frog eating a June bug. The scenery never changed and all he might have seen around his boat was water and sky, but he was more content, than if he would have traveled and climbed up to Machu Picchu.
Wood smoke and camp fires. How long has it been since you hunkered down by a campfire and let the world fly by without you? Of course, you cannot haul in a lowboy of modern conveniences on this trip, or you just complicate it. No, just some meat on a stick; coffee in the morning, and maybe a cooler with beverages is all you need. Get a pocket knife and whittle a stick, just frittering the day away. I promise, it will do you more good than a trip to a crowded stadium, where you have a 50/50 chance of leaving disgusted.
My little doggies make me happy on a daily basis. They demand nothing, chase each other in mock fights and dadgumit, they just are great companions. I feel good caring for them, by taking them for walks, making sure they have plenty of food and water, and great veterinary care. It’s these simple everyday things that enrich my life and the best part of it all is I recognize it. I don’t have to book a flight to Belize to have a great time or to be content.
Like the burning leaves, wood smoke, and campfires, what has truly made me satisfied in life - is life itself.