It was a musical by Sidney Michaels and Mark Sandrich, Jr. called “Ben Franklin in Paris,” telling the story of my time in France trying to drum up support and funding for the American Revolution.
Interestingly, one of the songs in that play was “Look for Small Pleasures,” based in part on something I’d written a few centuries ago, expressing my thoughts on pleasure seeking and grandiosity.
I must say, the author of the song had done an excellent job of conveying my message poetically, perhaps even better than my original phrasing!
The words go something like this,
Look for small pleasures that happen every day,
And not for fortune or fame,
Infinite treasures lie all along the way,
As do candles, waiting for flame.
How simple the joys at our fingertips,
This plain air we share
Is champagne one sips.
Look for small pleasures upon this ball of clay,
And not for lightning to tame.
And one day, there’s someone,
Just a friendly someone,
Who’ll be husband or wife to you,
Be the love of all your life to you,
And you’ll find how great small pleasures can prove.
In reflecting on these lines today, I’m reminded of how appropriate they still are, particularly for this modern world of big ideas and even bigger ambitions. So many people seem to think that unless one can achieve the fastest, the farthest, the largest, the most impressive, the most record-breaking, the most appreciated, the most technologically advanced whatever, then the accomplishment is not worthy of undertaking.
Likewise, unless a particular activity, pastime, pleasure, or relationship measures up to those excesses and extravagances of the wealthy and famous, reported daily in the media, then it too is not very remarkable or desirable. I think of the relationship with my own dear beloved Deborah.
As one who has personally experienced both the simple and the grand, the modest and the magnificent, I feel I have to make it known that my initial inclination is still true: the simpler pleasures are the better ones, regardless of opposing viewpoints or differing opinions on the part of friends, family, co-workers, or even world leaders and well-known public figures.
The more we can all embrace this perspective, the faster we can manage to turn around the insensitive, inflationary, wasteful, environmentally destructive excesses that this future world appears to love so much in the year 2013.
Your humble servant,