“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” – J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
The weeks have been incredibly crazy lately. Well, a little more crazy than normal. Between some moving, the end of the summer and the start of school, it has been a whirlwind of good-byes, hellos, and pensive beginnings.
As I have been trying to resolve my constant attempt to catch-up with life to get everything in order so I can begin the fall with ease (because that’s going to solve all of my problems), I was reminded of a day at the pool we had over the summer. Our youngest was still hiccuping from her tearful display of disappointment over only one blue crayon in the box, as opposed to a box full of blue crayons. Another was upset over losing a sock (because socks are necessary when going to the pool). And the third was desperately moving us all along, afraid we would never get to the pool before closing (at 11 a.m. in the morning).
We finally got out to the pool and after everyone got in, I realized I had nothing to do but sit. Then I felt awkward because I was just sitting on a lounge chair, so I laid back. Now, to most people, laying down at a pool is not a foreign concept. For me, it was. I am usually holding a small hand, have a piece of food hanging out of my mouth while trying to incoherently answer another person with my mouth full and still keeping an eye on the third child who always seemed to be chasing a butterfly somewhere. I usually can’t even sit, much less lay.
But not that day.
That day, all three children were fed, sun-screened and ready to play. Another adult was ready and willing to be the responsible party, and all the work I thought I had to do, couldn’t be done poolside with the glare of the sun on my phone.
I just laid there, my mind not getting the memo that it, too, could stop racing around. I glanced at the sky for some help with the busy brain on overload. As I looked at the clear blue sky above, I took a breath. There was some magical feeling that came over me right then.
For that split second, I felt everything was OK in the world. Sure, there were still things that were not perfect; there was a wad of gum stuck to my flip flop and the world still had not reached peace. Yet, for that moment, there was nothing I could do about it. And maybe my stillness was exactly my contribution to world peace for the moment.
In this second, I wasn’t contributing to the craziness.
There will always be challenges, obstacles, sadness and pain. I have come to accept that. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt or that life is easy. But I need to do my part to recognize and rejoice in the beauty. Or else, I will never have a happy moment or share a happy moment, as happiness is not a sustaining feeling, but instead, the acceptance of how the moment is right at that time, despite how much we may not like it.
I have wasted so much time worrying about small things. Granted, they are big things to me, but nonetheless, these worries and frantic actions have replaced the peace that I could be experiencing. When I first got into recovery, I was so grateful for every moment. I was present in my life, I remembered the night before and I wasn’t worried so much about the details. I was grateful to just be alive and have another chance at this thing called life.
Then I got on my feet a little more and started taking on new things, because I could. I forgot that the whole reason I was able to do this was because of my recovery, because I put my sanity, my health - my life - first. I stopped my gratitude list and started trying to keep up with everything I thought I should be doing. I forgot to smell the flowers because I had more important things to do. I would stop and enjoy tomorrow. Today, I had stuff to do.
We only have this one moment.
My kids will be one day older tomorrow. I will be one day older tomorrow. The tree in our front yard will also be one day older tomorrow.
The world still passes by, regardless if I’m ready or not. And believe me, sometimes I am not ready. My heart hurts to see how quickly the years are passing. There has been no other period in my life that I would want to be in, except the here and now. I have everything I could ever want, I am older and wiser, and yet, I still take part in the chase. This chase of the illusion that somehow doing more, accumulating more, leads to a life of happiness. Of course, I do not consciously join this chase, but it happens as a by-product of my incessant need to be doing instead of simply being.
There will probably not be a time (at least in my near future) that all of the laundry is folded, all of the family photo albums are up to date or each child has had an equal amount of one-on-one time with me or my husband. That doesn’t mean we stop trying, but it does mean we can accept that in this moment, this is how it is. Pushing harder isn’t going to make it so. The list will just get longer, the expectations will get higher.
There is no big magical rainbow of confetti that comes down on us when we reach complete happiness because all of our presumed tasks are complete. It’s being able to recognize the small moments in our every day that seem bigger when we change our perspective to see it that way.
By nature, I want things to be in order, to be “right”, and I can get easily out of joint when they are not. I’ve come to realize over the years that this is how I was programmed; it’s in my cells. Without awareness, I often assume I need to be constantly moving and fixing and preparing and ordering my life so that I can enjoy the moment when it comes.
What I was so humbly reminded of at the pool that day is that, maybe, one of the secrets to happiness is recognizing that perfect moment of bliss is already here, we just have to stop to look for it.