November 29, 2009

Sweet rewards

"He was looking at me expectantly, holding his cookie a few inches above the cup, and the bottom third of the cookie, which was stained a darker tan from the coffee, was beginning to decompose, threatening to fall off into the liquid below. It seemed heartbreaking, it seemed unbearable, that I was aware of this and he was not.* It seemed heartbreaking that he liked the taste of a sugar cookie dipped in coffee, that it was a treat to him. The small rewards we give ourselves--I think maybe there is nothing sadder."
--Prep, Curtis Sittenfeld
Just what is so very wrong or heartbreaking about enjoying a sugar cookie dipped in coffee? Such rewards, small as they may be, lay the foundation of a happy, healthy mindset. Alone, they are not able to ensure happiness, but surely they serve well enough to fill in the cracks.

True, that the things we do for ourselves can seem so very small at times. But think about this sort of thing too much, and we will only end up as dissatisfied and unpleasantly whiny as the protagonist of Prep. I don't think any of us want that.

*"...to parents whom you had to hurt when they brought in a joy and you didn't pick it up (it was a joy meant for somebody else)..." -- Rainer Maria Rilke's "For the Sake of a Single Poem"

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