In my sunroom are two trays of soil, beneath which are planted twenty nespole pits which I check every day with joyous anticipation, waiting for the first green shoots to sprout through. I lovingly water these trays, and yes, I have even been caught singing to them in hopes that my heartfelt notes (albeit not always on tune) might help them flourish into lush Italian fruit trees.
Happiness for me is neither a pair of diamond earrings nor a shiny new car. At the moment, a simple tray of unsprouted fruit pits is what makes me euphoric. Why? Because when I look at these trays, my thoughts travel back to a Sunday afternoon in Italy. I was sitting around a long dinner table with lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins, enjoying the after-dinner fruit assortment when I innocently commented on how sweet the nespole were. Before I knew it, each person began sucking the last bit of fruit off of their nespole pits, drying them on napkins and handing them to me with the joyful smiles you see on children’s faces on Christmas morning. I gathered my treasures into a napkin and listened carefully to their detailed, passionate instructions: the pits first dry out until October, then they go under soil, then in the spring, they are transferred to the garden outside. As they explained, I could feel their excitement growing, and I was momentarily choked up to realize how important it was to them that I too, come to know this simple pleasure of growing nespole.
When we complicate our lives with too many “things,” we become desensitized to the small pleasures in life and think we need increasingly complex technological toys, fancy clothes, or elaborate occasions to hold our attention and make us happy.
On that Sunday afternoon in Italy, I was more convinced than ever that true happiness comes only from the clarity of a mind and heart that know how to recognize the extraordinary treasure in the ordinary goings-on of life.
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