Friday, March 12, 2010

Simply happy or happily simple

Mobility is something of an issue for me. I spent many reclusive months last year letting the steep and plentiful stairs from my apartment to the carport intimidate me. Perhaps it was time to stay in and reflect. Could have been a passing phobia. The good news is that it did pass and I now experience excitement at the thought of going out. Of the two, I'll take that over dread every time.

Yesterday was a going-out-for-n0-reason adventure. That brings us back to definitions, for your idea of an adventure and mine may be different. Remember, I have been too long in exile so anything that is elsewhere is...enough.

If things happen for a reason and I assume they do, then being cast as the shut-in gave me a sense of fondness for things that might have escaped notice. Think of George Bailey, running from one familiar and run-down location to another, bursting with delight, reveling in his previously under-appreciated life. I think it is a phrase we get to use until it is so threadbare we need some of that duct tape to hold it together: it is a wonderful life.

Being, most of the time, familiar with where my mind has been and how it works, I know I equated the notion of a wonderful life with a perfect one. Nothing with sharp and terrifying teeth at my elbow, no fabled swords dangling above my head, everything, including me, tidy and ordered, predictable and successful in all the traditional interpretations.

How relieved I am that I wasn't holding my breath waiting for THAT wonderful life to appear, though I recall disappointment when it didn't seem to be drawing any closer. Frank Capra left us a blueprint for reconstructing happiness out of the materials at hand.

Yesterday, I woke up in Southern California, which may have earthquakes but never blizzards. I left home without having to wear anything waterproof, slid back the seldom-enjoyed sunroof and felt that I was the luckiest woman in the world. My son came along for the ride and I drove on streets I haven't seen since last summer. Condos rose from the site of the open-late coffee shop where newsmen on the night shift could find breakfast after work. The reconfigured convention center reflected the city's substantial history so much better than the previous incarnation. The once-sagging upper story of what had been my grandparents' house was standing without supporting beams. Progress, in most cases, abounded.

The owner of our town's only - and independent - drive-through coffee stand greeted us like shipwreck survivors. A mocha-to-go on any day, let alone the edge of spring, is as fine a treat as I can imagine. While my son did an errand, I sat in the noon sun, feeling cells fill with natural Vitamin D. To use a favorite old family word, I basked. From the poem, "The Owl and the Pussycat," my parents liked to quote, "...and did nothing but basking until they were saved."

A utility worker called across a quiet street and offered to buy my car on the spot. No thank you, but I took warmth from the offer. We brought home provisions from our old neighborhood for dining nostalgia. I got into bed thinking what a fine day it had been; I woke at 3:30 and could feel the blessings running through me, mind and body.

I recognize that being happy is a choice, that it is an interior process which can flourish regardless of the outside atmosphere. The amount of universal truth remaining for me to learn cannot be calculated. That I feel almost fluent in happiness is farther along than I ever dreamed I would be.


Jen Worden said...

Marylinn, you've done it again with "fluent in happiness". Wonderful addition to my lexicon. Indeed it is taking note and appreciating the small things, the simple things that leads us to fluency. Great post! :D

Lisa Hoffman said...

Thank you for this beautifully expressed snapshot of your interior terrain.
You have gently cradled me through many a dark night with your long distance compassion and wisdom as I fought the ravages of the West Nile Virus. I'm so happy that the World gets to share a dose of that wisdom right here. Right now. Please, never stop writing.

Erin in Morro Bay said...

How delightful! Having haunted South Pasadena in my college days at CSCLA, I felt like I was riding along with you, feeling the sun and enjoying the mocha. Your happiness is infectious. Welcome back!

Anonymous said...

I want to send this to a friend who is deaf to this language...