Out of nowhere, a shout broke the stillness of the restaurant.
With that energy, it could have been a successful proposal. Or a winning lottery ticket. Or some really, really good news that just came over a cell phone.
It was Missy, taking her first bite of a peanut butter pie.
Super Bowl wins have had less appreciation.
I shouldn’t be surprised. For all that Missy the Great says maybe a couple of hundred words a week, she tends to have a very unfiltered relationship with the world around her.
Some people will inhale and tense slightly as they reach the exciting part of a book in bed. Missy will grin, give an excited laugh and pull the covers up to her nose.
Some people will give soft hugs to a younger relative. Missy, if left to herself, would latch on to my wife’s 8-year-old sister until the seasons changed.
Most people, it’s true, would crank a favorite song on the radio. But they probably wouldn’t bounce in their seat as it came on.
It’s a simple joy, one that crosses boundaries. Missy’s developmental disability can make it hard for her to communicate with the world around her, but it doesn’t always matter. Where some people have their heart written on their sleeve, Missy can have an entire bookshelf.
Simple joys in simple things.
We all started that way, once upon a time. At least, I know I did. Growing up, I was an unabashed “texture junkie.” Reach out and touch wasn’t just a phone company slogan, it was a way of life as I fidgeted with ribbon or ran my hand along the roughness of a brick wall.
The brick might not have been clean. But it sure was neat.
Even better was wind-dancing – feeling something that couldn’t be felt, not directly. Colorado has some great and marvelous windy days, and on the most blustery, I knew exactly what to do: stretch my arms wide and turn with the breeze, making my dizzy way along the playground.
I don’t remember if I said “WOW!” But I know I felt it.
I was going to say something about how most of us lose that ability somewhere along the line. But now that I think on it, that’s not really true. We bury it, maybe, or pack it on a shelf as we grow up. Life holds a lot of experiences, both painful and sublime, as we mature and those crowd their way into the headlines of our mind.
But every so often, something wakes up.
Maybe it’s from a painting or a scrap of melody, an artist who hasn’t forgotten how to feel simplicity directly.
Maybe it’s a remembered smile as we watch a 2-year-old go very seriously about the simple business of having fun, and wonder ourselves how those large Legos would feel in our hands.
Maybe it’s just one of those moments when the rest of the world seems to go away and the simple things are all that remain. The feel of a dog curled on the bed. The spark from a fire on a cold mountain night.
Soft moments. Free of self-consciousness. Free to let something be, and to let it be wonderful.
Maybe we can’t be that way all the time. Maybe we couldn’t function if we did. But maybe, just maybe, we could let it happen just a little more than we do.
It’s all out there. Just waiting to be loved, to be touched.
Even to be tasted.