It’s A Put On

January 16, 2010

The other day on Facebook one of my friends asked the question, what makes you happy? I liked that one. A very simple query that made me stop and think for a moment what had the ability to make me change my gray skies to blue and put on a happy face. I’m happy to report (I guess that’s one of them) that I have quite a few. And let me tell you it’s a very good thing because lately life has been reminding me what it’s all about. Ups and downs. Good news as well as bad. Those aspects of daily living that make you want to throw your arms open to the world and scream, YAY!!! As well as the daily reminders that leave you wanting to simply scream, then shudder and lie down.

I remember quite vividly, several years ago, while going through an incredibly difficult time (my fathers declining health), I was feeling very melancholy. I was lying on my back, on the floor of my apartment, with my headphones on. Joni Mitchell was playing. I listen to her music a lot (another thing that makes me happy) and the song she was singing (Refuge Of The Road) I’d heard a million times. But at this particular moment, as I wondered how I could possibly manage the situation, these words jumped out so clearly:

“Heart and humour and humility”, he said, “Will lighten up your heavy load”

And I thought, yeah….

I mean it’s not like I got up and started doing cartwheels. Or that I never wanted, after that, to drop down, bawling, at any given time, curled into the fetal position and start rocking back and forth. But the words helped me keep my head from flying off through some very heavy moments and I continue to sing them to myself from time to time.

Anyway, my friend posed the what makes you happy? question which I responded to like this:

Lots of stuff. To pick one… walking, or running, or driving along wherever and having a milli-second connection with a stranger, with a quick hello or head nod, coupled with a particular way the eyes meets. It doesn’t happen every time and it’s all about the energy. Brings a smile to my face every time.

And it’s true. I love that. But the best part about the question is I keep thinking about it. And at various times since that happy little seed got planted I’ve kept a mental note when the corners of my mouth turn up. For example, yesterday on the subway home while reading Granta. I love Granta. If you haven’t stumbled on it you can usually find it in the magazine section. It was the spring issue, Number 105 and the piece by Don Paterson called, If With His Shirt… that made me laugh out loud. It’s so tightly written, sharp and funny that I had to stop myself from wanting to tap the person beside me on the shoulder to start reading particularly hilarious lines to them. And I’m not the type of person who wants to strike up a conversation with a stranger on the subway – at rush hour – or, for that matter, at any time. And, to be honest with you, I wasn’t really having a very good day.

So, I’m thankful for those moments when I’m able to bare my teeth in a toothy grin, even when it feels like I’m being kicked in them.

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