In response to Claudette’s Writing Challenge #13: It’s In The Details
Someone recently told me that she wanted happiness in her future. I replied that I get a bit fudgy when it comes to that word. It means so many different things, and those things change, seemingly sometimes from one moment to the next. So, I decided to write a history of the different things it has meant to me over the years.
There was a time, when I believed that marriage and having children would be, must be, the ultimate happiness. I was wrong, but it took an awful lot of time to figure that out. There were other things on the horizon while I was unknowingly waiting to know that.
Like crafts. I believed that if I decorated the walls of my house with hand-made projects, that would make me happy. I kept myself busy for years doing things like macrame, embroidery, crocheting, flower-arranging, drawing and painting, and lots more. I wanted my home to reflect my person, and to some extent it did. I also discovered that I was a very creative individual, but beautiful things don’t necessarily make for happiness.
Then there was music and learning how to play the guitar. That was hard because I didn’t start until I was thirty. I love music and although it was satisfying and gave me contentment at moments, I finally realized that that was just not enough.
So, I went to school. Actually, school was both a desire and a necessity. And for several years it made me happy, if happiness is defined by a certain level of contentment and the challenge that makes one move forward. College certainly did both of those things, and taught me a great deal for which I will always be grateful.
But, all things come to an end eventually. I graduated and found work. I actually liked my job a great deal, but mostly I liked the fact that much of the time, I was the one in charge. And although that too had an element of satisfaction in it, I became aware that whatever satisfaction was there, it just wasn’t enough.
Then the opportunity to teach came along. Not something I was looking for, but something I was willing to try. And it worked for several years. Again, that element of satisfaction was high a great deal of the time, I was absorbed in what I was doing and being. But, as will happen, the bottom dropped out and I was no longer physically able to meet the demands of the niche I had found. I entered the world of disability and all the bureaucratic hassles attached to that reality.
Just trying to make the adjustments took up a great deal of my time and energy. That wasn’t a particularly happy period, but I did manage to get through it. I survived. There was satisfaction in that awareness, even if it lacked a sense of contentment. Actually, I had to struggle against resignation a great deal of the time.
Next came the move back to the city of my birth. Coming full circle. For those of you who are familiar with this blog, you know that I spent some time trying on the role of a couch potato. I had earned it. But, I certainly wasn’t happy with it.
Throughout all of this, there was the writing: daily journaling, sometimes sporadic, poetry, and essays. It was another kind of music that wove all of the rest of my time together. Made it all of a piece. It was the warp and woof of the tapestry of my life. And no where else, was I ever as happy as when I was writing. Writing was the glue that held my life together.
Oh, there were always other things and people. I owned several dogs and they were each a delight onto themselves. But dogs, like people, come and go and take emotional investment that hurts when they must pass on. I had learned that other people can’t be ones only source of happiness. Happiness must come from within.
When I said that I get fudgy about that word, that is what I was speaking about. I love fudge, especially the kind with chunks of walnut in it. But walnuts can get stuck in the teeth, and can even break them if bitten wrongly. That is a great deal of what life is all about. Enjoying the fudge, but also staying alert to the fact that it is only a momentary pleasure. Just as happiness can be.
I truly believe it is important to take the time to explore ones history of happiness. The word itself is rather slippery, its definition often changing with or without a moment’s notice. Taking the time to define what has made you happy in the past, can lead to other paths that allow those moments of contentment to flourish.
Writing makes me happy. That doesn’t mean it is always easy or even goes smoothly. I find contentment and satisfaction on the page, more often than not. And after all of these years of searching for happiness, it is incredibly wonderful to know that piece of information. I wouldn’t have ever found it if I hadn’t been driven to write again and again and eventually realized that words and forming them were what held my existence together.
What makes you happy? How do you define happiness? For me, it means a certain balance of contentment and satisfaction derived from a continuing challenge that keeps me exploring and searching, as well as finding what I am searching for. And yes, there are still chunks of walnut in my fudge, but it’s also home-made and that is pleasing all in itself. I am still creating what surrounds me, still moving to the music that I hear inside of my head, still making new friends, and that for me is happiness.
I’d also like a Golden Retriever puppy, at least for a few days, but pets are not allowed where I have chosen to live. That’s okay too, dogs have a tendency to find me and I love the surprises they often bring, along with the love and exuberance they carry within their very cells. It’s contagious.