The perfect day

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What is your perfect day? I remember my sixth-grade teacher gave us a writing assignment asking us to answer that very question. I’m pretty sure my day included lots of snow and sledding (and no school of course), hot chocolate, and all of my favorite foods at the time including spoonbread and pork chops. I was obsessed with winter as a child, partly because we didn’t get much of a winter in Georgia, so any snowfall was a real treasure. Since then I’ve experienced more than my fair share of snow and now prefer a nice hot summer’s day, thank you very much. [picapp align=”left” wrap=”false” link=”term=sledding&iid=5063542″ src=”f/2/7/7/Girl_89_walking_21af.jpg?adImageId=10821508&imageId=5063542″ width=”380″ height=”254″ /]

But there are certain elements that would always constitute a perfect day for me, regardless of my age or change in tastes. And I think yesterday included most, if not all, of those elements.

1. Good food: It was my turn to cook last night so I grilled some lamb chops with a little garlic, rosemary and olive oil, and served them with couscous mixed with red onions, green olives, and basil, with green beans on the side. We washed it down with an excellent Australian shiraz and the result was an immensely satisfying meal.

2. Good music: I’d been introduced to the local band Flight Brigade this week after being invited to go to their gig at the Half Moon Putney on March 20th, so I checked them out on myspace and enjoyed what I heard. Looking forward to hearing them live. Incidentally, the Half Moon in its day has hosted The Rolling Stones and Natasha Bedingfield, among others. Bodes well for these guys.

3. Talking with family: Other than getting to spend most of the day with my husband, I also got to talk over Skype with my sisters. Keeping in touch with my family back in the U.S. is an important part of every day, so of course it would have to be included in my perfect day. And of course spending quality time with my husband is essential.

4. A good dose of exercise: Of course sledding would be the ideal form of exercise in my perfect day. Walking up those hills burns a lot of calories, and then you get the fun of flying down them. But in lieu of that, I did an exercise DVD at a friend’s house. OK, it was indoors, but at least it got me movin’.

5. Good entertainment: Yesterday I was catching up on some Olympics action that I’d missed during the week. I absolutely love BBC iPlayer and it has been my lifeline for staying on top of all that’s happening in Vancouver. And when it comes down to it, there’s not much that’s more entertaining than sports.

6. Spending time with friends: After dinner was over last night I went over to my friend’s house to hang out and watch a DVD with her and another girl. She’s going to North America for four months during the summer so we went through her itinerary and I gave her some helpful pointers.

7. Something a little…unusual: OK, so this was a planned unusual thing, but it’s something that happens very rarely so it was special. I booked our tickets to travel to America in the summer and it was amazing how much it brightened up my day. The perfect day always has to include the anticipation of something exciting happening in the future.

8. A good night’s sleep: I don’t think I need to point out why this is essential. Thankfully last night I slept like a rock until the morning, perhaps because my day was perfect?

So what’s your perfect day?

Owning the moment

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I once had a teacher who explained to us the difference between enjoying a thing and wanting to own it. When we “window shop” we are taking in visual delights that we don’t take home with us. But when we go into the shop and purchase said delights we are taking ownership over them, perhaps over time to lose that original sense of wonder. When we go to a live concert it is very different from buying a CD or mp3 and enjoying it in the comfort of our living rooms, but then tiring of it after the 100th listen, putting it away where it gathers dust or becomes buried in our iTunes list.

Choristers From Westminster Abbey Prepare For Christmas

Today we went to hear the Winchester Cathedral boys and girls choristers sing Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols  during a lunchtime concert at Winchester Cathedral. I love the Ceremony of Carols, not least because I grew up listening to a CD recording of it. My dad owns that CD and we listened to it every Christmas (and still do when I visit). Hearing it performed by 50 boys and girls with their tiny voices floating up to the rafters of the cathedral was heavenly. But I realized that during the half-hour concert I was straining to hold on to the moment of listening to them, and afterwards I wanted to somehow wrap it up and take it home with me. But I couldn’t – it lives on only in my memory, and it’s settled happily there. I wouldn’t trade it. It made me think of the Nativity verse: “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

All this is not to say that we can’t enjoy things that we own. Far from it. But how much happiness and contentment would come about through the enjoyment of things without owning them? In my experience, quite a lot. It sets us free from the burden of consumption when we take delight in each moment.

Still, I don’t think I can resist playing Britten’s piece over Spotify this Christmas. (Is streaming music online owning it, or merely enjoying it in a succession of fleeting moments? You decide.)