This morning, Bill @ drbillwooten.com touched off a train of thought with another one of his fantastic quotes – this from Ernest Hemingway – “And if there’s not any such thing as a long time, nor the rest of your life, nor from now on, but there is only now, why then now is the thing to praise and I am very happy with it.”
Assuming that one is living a life of relative physical and emotional comfort, I think being happy takes guts. It seems to be far easier to ascribe one’s frame of mind to the actions or inactions of others, the elements of living that remain decidedly out of our control and/or historic wrongs that we suffered from which it seems likely we will never recover. I know you have met people who have affixed a figurative piece of velcro to the back of their hand and permanently placed it against their forehead. Lots of sighs. Slews of “if onlys”. Eeyore on steroids (and I say that with affection, for I am a huge Eeyore fan).
There’s a lot of conversational fodder in looking at your life and finding happiness contingent upon something or someone else. Life as a perpetual “if….then” statement. The operative word for me is ‘perpetual’, for arguably there are times when we are anticipating, hoping, planning, etc. But all the time? Are we always waiting to react? Are we never responsible for initiating? If one believes the latter, then what in the world can we claim personal responsibility for? What do we get to claim as ours?
Happiness is a challenge, for it means you own it. It’s on you. No one else. Your boss can be impossible (I’ve had those), people may not offer what you are hoping for, someone may ride your bumper during an interminable rush hour. Maybe your kids don’t get you or you don’t get them. Perhaps the list of irritations far outweigh the list of delights. I get it. But I own it. My lousy moods are mine – rarely do I blame someone else. My happiness – which can certainly be fostered and enhanced by the phenomenal people around me – is also mine. Because at the end of the day, I’m the one in this moment. Our perceptions of the present moment are not the same, even if we’re sitting here having a cup of coffee together. However I interpret this time is my job. And I’m ok with that – because I can adjust and recalibrate – I don’t want someone else to do it for me.
When I was a young adult, my mom would repeatedly admonish “You never listen to me. Well, you listen to me, but you end up doing what you want to do anyway.” She was right. I asked her many years later whether she really would have wanted to take responsibility for my actions – a question answered by her silence. It’s easier to point a finger out, but honestly? You’re the one who makes your day.
Why do I post this today? Because I needed the reminder. Because the morning broke grey and indifferent and I felt my body concede, bending to the power of a day that didn’t give a damn. Joints in active rebellion. One look in the mirror and all bets on a good hair day were off. The Sirs decided to bark passionately at absolutely nothing and my head began to feel like it was in a vice. The kitchen still looked post-apocalyptic. This was my moment. And unless I kicked myself in the butt, the day was going to continue to spiral down with alacrity. So Bill’s quote brought me back to baseline. If this is all I’ve got, it’s fine by me. And though I wish that all your moments are golden, I know that some may not meet that threshold. So when they don’t, consider that this is all we know for sure. Right now – and it’s yours. For that reason alone, it deserves at least a smile, and perhaps a shake of the head.