Monday, February 20, 2012

simple joys

Matt is a gentleman in my house who gets excited about very little things.

It will make his day if, on our drive somewhere, he sees an ambulance or a firetruck or a police car. They don't even have to have their lights and sirens on to make him happy, but if they are that's an even greater bonus for him. He will continue talking about it for hours afterward. During supper, he'll look up from his meal and ask, "Where the fire truck going? It helping people?" Or in the midst of his shower, while he's dutifully shampooing his hair, he'll look at me and say, "I saw the ambulance. You see the ambulance?" He genuinely gets very excited about this sort of thing.

It's an even bigger deal if he sees a tree trimmer or a chainsaw or a wood chipper. These are his absolute favorite things to behold. He'll make the chainsaw noise, and then ask me or the other assistant to do it, too. Then he'll run down to his room and grab his plastic chainsaw to show to us. If anyone new comes to visit, he gets really excited at the opportunity to show this new person his plastic chainsaw and to ask them who cuts the trees at their house.

These are the places where Matt finds great joy.

Matt also wears a watch. It's not that he can tell the time, or that the concept of time is really all that meaningful to him. What he really enjoys about this watch is that if he presses a button it makes a chime noise and then a voice will say what time it is. Sometimes he will push the button several times in a single minute, just to hear the noise it makes.

But just the other day, the watch started to sound a little funny. The chime sounded a little strained and the voice was getting a little fuzzy. "Uh oh," Matt said. "What's wrong with my watch? It sound sick?" Then it lost the ability to keep the time at all, and every time he'd push the button it would make the strained chime noise and say it was 8:00. Even if it was 3:30. It was evident that it needed a new battery.

So on Saturday, when the other guys in the house were busy with other things, I took Matt and we went on an adventure to Target. We needed to get a new watch battery and a screwdriver small enough to open the back of the watch to replace the battery. After some diligent searching, we managed to find the things that we needed and so we returned home to do some watch repair. As I sat at the table and did the work, Matt paced the floor. It was much like a nervous father waiting to hear news about his hospitalized child. I finally got the battery changed, and then it took some trial and error figure out how to set it to the correct time.

But then I handed Matt his watch, and he put it on. I asked him what time it was and he pushed the button and it chimed and the voice rang out as clear as day telling us what time it was. Matt got so excited. He squeezed his hands together, let out a happy squeal and even jumped a little bit. For the rest of the evening, about every five minutes, he continued to thank me for his battery, and he told everyone else in the house that his watch had been fixed. "My watch fixed!" he'd say. Then he'd add, "Who fix it?" and when the person would ask who fixed it, he'd excitedly say, "Mark!" I felt like I was his personal hero, that I had made his entire day, and potentially his whole week, because I had done something as simple as putting a new battery in his watch.

I wish that I had this kind of joy more often. I wish that I could take delight in the little things, rather than expecting more or getting upset that things aren't exactly the way that I want them. I wish that I could be more like Matt, that I could take each moment as it comes and see the things worth being joyful about in each one. I wish that I could forget about the things that went wrong, or the things I wish hadn't happened, or the things I should have done, and just focus on the little spots of joy that occur around me everyday.

Because I know they are there. Matt points them out to me all the time.