Who knows. Maybe happiness isn’t something you can find or something you can have. Maybe happiness is the Holy Grail of life – something no one really knows how to find and no one agrees on what it looks like or actually is, yet so many blindly search for it like sleepy children groping in the dark for their teddy bear or blankie to make them feel safe. Maybe life isn’t supposed to feel safe. Maybe it isn’t a matter of fighting the darkness in search for light. Maybe, just maybe, happiness is simply a matter of living each moment, rather dark or light, to its fullest and appreciating each day for what it brings and what it teaches us on our journey. Maybe being happy is just that…Just being happy. Meh???
Parts of me want to argue the possibility I could actually be content and purposeful at this point in my life. There’s the part of me that pursued countless years of higher education and worked tirelessly (and quite bitch-i-ly) toward a career I excelled in while simultaneously detesting my professional career field; only to end up losing the opportunity to work in that field all-together ever again. Or the part of me that became vulnerable and loved a man deeply and profoundly for the first time in my life only to have my heart shredded mercilessly. And let’s not forget the part of me to which I’m still introducing myself – the nervous anxiety-ridden woman who avoids others and feels like anywhere outside of “home” is scary and unsafe. All of these little parts of me, along with many pieces of my self here and there, challenge my new theory on happiness. “How can you possibly be happy?” they ask me. “You’re bankrupt, alone and you’re getting old…and you’re completely nuts to boot.” Preach, self…preach.
I don’t pretend to have any answers. In fact, each day as I’ve searched for answers to my life’s questions, I found myself in a quagmire of more questions, confusion and self-doubt. And perhaps it’s just middle age, weariness from the search itself or maybe even (dare I say) some long awaited wisdom calling me to give up the search for happiness and to recognize it was never lost, but I was lost in my fruitless search to pursue what can’t be found. Maybe in becoming too worn out from the life-long chase for happiness, I’ve stopped and landed squarely on the foundation of the very thing I’ve been pursuing.
Having been forced to stop, rest and take a look around at the life I neglected while I sought happiness, I’m starting to realize that many of the very things I pushed to the “later” pile while running in circles were exactly the things that bring me the realest form of happiness I’ve ever experienced. My children, my physical health, my faith, my art, my sunsets, my phenomenal sister and handful of true and trusted friends, my loyal dog and the chance to wake up and do it all again each morning- each of these are in themselves immeasurable blessings and reasons for ecstatic joy and happiness. It’s only in losing sight of the “what-happiness-is-supposed-to-look-like” carrot I was chasing for so many years that I’ve been allowed to realize life is good, happiness is mine to have…and it has always has been.
Honestly I’m a little disgruntled it took me so long to understand this paradigm and I’m downright ticked I still struggle so much to hold onto it. This is why I love my sunsets…they remind me to find the peaceful place inside my soul where I can ignore those parts of me that want to go back to chasing carrots. Happiness and happily ever after are not something you can find in yesterday or tomorrow…it’s only available here and now in the present. So today, the moment in which you’re existing, is your chance at happiness. We’re always hearing “you’re not promised a tomorrow” and we’ve been raised on the promise of fairy tale endings. I think the truth is somewhere in between. With no promise of tomorrow, each sunset becomes an “ever after” ending and the chance to live happily into it.
And as she sat by the river watching the sunset, she lived happily ever after.