Today was a rough day. My dog woke me up after about four hours of sleep whining and attacking me. After a urination and bite of food, he still insisted that I wake up and give him attention. Thanks, Bernie. And then the usual story follows, miss the bus, drive to school, cram for a test, yada yada yada.
I felt like I had a gloomy cloud hanging over my head. I was worrying about my parents and the obstacles they’ve been facing, worrying about school, missing the a-hole ex-boyfriend and hating myself for it. I was praying for something good to happen, some one or some thing to show up and save me. Some reason to cheer up. Needless to say, my Monday was shite. And nothing was going to make it better.
Late in the evening I began reading a new book though, entitled The One-Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka and a passage grabbed my grumpy attention. In the introduction by Wendell Berry, he discusses happiness and joy in the context of agriculture, but then he quotes a poem that could apply to even to my meager life.
William Blake once said,
He who binds to himself a joy
Doth the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sunrise.
Sometimes I try so hard to obtain something, I work relentlessly for a job, a relationship, for happiness. I can almost try too hard and become attached to the idea of such a thing, and I suffer for it. When I try so hard for happiness, I cannot grasp it. I must let go and allow nature, in a sense, take it’s course. This is when happiness is found.
When I apply this to my life I feel a mix of emotions. On one hand, I believe in ‘fake it til you make it’. The idea that if one projects happiness and strives to find the good and joy constantly than joy will return to him/her. I have long felt this way. That if I keep smiling even though my insides are aching or laugh even though I’d rather sigh, that eventually the happiness would find me. I found however, that no matter how many happy, positive movies I watched, or no matter how much I sought answers and happiness, sometimes this wasn’t enough.
Perhaps William Blake is right, that one cannot force such a wonderful emotion has happiness, and instead must be patient and then truly appreciate it when it comes.
I believe that having a positive attitude can help one to be happy, but it is not the source. Happiness does not come when called. It is not something to be possessed, it comes and goes like the tides, and cannot be held onto or captured.
When I’ve been down in the dumps and searching for some thing to pull me out, I am usually left forlorn and lonely. There is no thing or person that can bring happiness. It finds me, it finds you, when we detach and let the moments, things, and people come and go.
I have often hoped that a friend or lover would come along and save me. Some sort of wonderful soul that could be my bright light, could teach me how to be happy. How incorrect am I. While a good friend or significant other may bring good times, true happiness is found within, and like the wind it comes unexpected, and without a mechanism.
So perhaps instead of trying to fill a void, instead of trying to force something so fluid and ungraspable, I should allow myself to feel low, look inwards, and patiently observe the world and my inner workings. When I have grown, the happiness will come. I must appreciate happiness and bask in it while it lasts, for as we all know, life has a good way of throwing curve-balls.
Kiss the joy as it flies, and kiss my sadness as well. Everything is constantly changing and I must let these emotions wash over me like the water of a bath.
Naturally, I could use a dose of my own medicine. It is a constant challenge . The last thing I want to hear when I’m having a bad day is the whole “this too shall pass” spiel, but sometimes it helps to write it down and remind myself that all will be well.
Photo credit given to my wonderful mother, Laura B. Pramuk