The Dog Biscuit and Cigar Guide to Happiness
Firstly, can I just say a MASSIVE well done for getting through all 575 days of January - or am I the only one who felt like January lasted forever this year?!
Anyway, it’s over and the days are slowly but surely getting lighter and brighter and I have something I want to share with you today that will hopefully make you feel lighter and brighter too. It’s a little tale I’ve titled, The Dog Biscuit and Cigar Guide to Happiness.
Now, you may well be wondering how dog biscuits and cigars hold the key to happiness - unless of course this letter catches you munching on a gravy bone and puffing on a Havana - in which case please can you send me a selfie. For everyone else, settle in as the tale is about to begin.
At the moment I’m lucky enough to live by the sea and most mornings I go for a long walk along the seafront before sitting down for a day’s writing.
The seafront is kept spick and span by a team of cleaners who arrive at about 6am - yes, I’m sometimes up and about at that ungodly hour too - and collect their carts from a store cupboard built into the sea wall. After a quick cuppa they all go off to their own individual patches along the front, where they work their magic, picking up litter and sweeping away other assorted debris.
The guy who’s in charge of the patch I walk along is about 60 and always ready with a cheery hello and matching grin.
The first time I encountered him I smelled a waft of cigar smoke first and was momentarily thrown. I’ve always seen cigars as being a special occasion kind of smoke and as such I associate their smell with nighttime and drinking and possibly some kind of celebration. But it was seven in the morning and I was walking along the seafront. I glanced around, half-expecting to see a businessman stumbling home from a night on the town - tie skew-whiff, jaw shaded with stubble. But the only people I could see were a couple of joggers and a woman walking her dog. And the guy pushing the cleaning cart.
As I got closer I realised that the smell was coming from him; that, as he picked up stray crisp packets and chip wrappers, he was puffing away on a fat cigar, jaunty jazz music playing on his phone.
I like your style, I thought to myself. Here was a man who clearly knew how to enjoy himself, even at work.
As I got closer he wished me a good morning through wisps of smoke.
‘Good morning!’ I called back, instantly cheered by his warm smile.
Then a dog came bounding over.
‘Hello, mate!’ the man greeted him like an old friend, then proceeded to fish something from a compartment at the front of his cart. This action sent the dog into a frenzy, dancing in a circle, chasing its tail.
‘Sit,’ the man said and the dog instantly obeyed, giving me the impression that I was witnessing a regular routine.
The man produced a dog biscuit and fed it to the dog, prompting more frenzied tail chasing. Within seconds another dog had appeared, and another, and he treated each of them to a biscuit.
Pretty soon the dog owners arrived.
‘Oh how lovely!’ one of them cried, clearly new to the routine.
As I walked on they all started chatting, every one of us, human and canine, cheered by the fact that we happened to have crossed paths with the cigar smoking, jazz loving purveyor of early morning doggie treats.
On my way home I got to thinking about how much I could learn from this brief encounter. There’s so much talk about finding our purpose in life, so much pressure to strive and succeed, acquire and achieve. But what if we simply made it our purpose to bring a little joy to our lives and the lives of others?
What if we found our own equivalents of cigars and jazz and dog biscuits? Magical ingredients to sprinkle our lives with.
So let me leave you with this thought: How could you spread a little joy today? How could you bring a smile to your own and someone else’s face?
Wishing you a wonderful Sunday full of simple pleasures.