Questions around Happiness

I went to Alberta last week and squeezed in a visit with my dear friend, Bina. I met her through Anita a few years back and what a gift it is when good people introduce me to good people. Bina is a wonder. As I get older and evermore fatigued by my own thin skin, I have a great appreciation for those who are pragmatic. Pragmatism is my new favourite quality in people. My brother is pragmatic. My husband is pragmatic. My Karen and my Maki are pragmatic and I’ll tell you, they keep the world turning around and they don’t get dizzy. IMG_3735

That’s a playful generalization of course but generally, pragmatic people say what they mean. How clear and refreshing. Sometimes they don’t know how they feel. How amazing. I can tell you how I feel in layers like onions: the outer shell feels physically tired from gardening, just under that is – well – it is horny week. Then under that is joy and well being, below that is a release of old stress leaving my body like urine being purged out of a sleeping bag while sitting in the sun. Underneath that is anger, perhaps in my liver, which is connected to something about being a woman in the industry. Under that is spiritual curiosity and playfulness which is contained in a body that still feels relief because it no longer itches. Oh yes. I know how I feel. images-1

The first time I really sat down with Bina was at my fortieth birthday. She gave me socks. Good sturdy socks. I’ve never purchased good socks in my life. I am a woman with runs and toes poking through. I am a woman who has blisters, often. I self pedicure and can’t resist the teenager toes in blue and green and ridiculous Barbie pink. I have very little common sense. This is widely known. Except when it comes to cooking, cleaning and real estate. Thank God for the last one.

So, a chat with Bina helps put the world aright. I tell her about my child’s struggles with school this year and she gives me great clear advice, having been a terrific teacher for over twenty years. We chat about being our age and health and all that fuss and nonsense and she is no nonsense and no fuss. Like me, she was alone for many years as a single mom and then met the man of her dreams in her mid-forties. They are still happy. They have no intention of becoming unhappy. How lovely. She just got back from Africa, a life changing experience. She spoke of the poverty and the cut off from the world. She spoke of the people’s mortality rate and lack of education and clean water. She spoke of their calm content joyousness. How can that be? And how dare we be discontent with all we have?images-2

I keep wanting to find a caveat for my own happiness. I’ll say, “Oh yes, he’s so wonderful and the children get along, but we are feeling the financial strain of trying to live on the Westcoast as a family…” Or some such. Why do I do that? Maybe I want people to know that I can still relate to them. Maybe I don’t want envy. Maybe I am chronically addicted to finding tension in order to tell a good story. Why read my blog if I am just out here farting rose petals? Maybe because I feel I don’t deserve happiness so I am not allowing myself to completely believe it. I am waiting for Fellow to tire of me. I am waiting for the infestation of rats. I am waiting for the market to crash, the blood test to come back nasty, the children to rebel, the in-laws to be offended by something I didn’t mean, and the phone to never ring again. And nobody can tell me this isn’t going to happen. Most of it likely will. So, really, I should ride the joy tide blissfully before the rip. Alright. I will admit it then: I am extremely happy.

Bina told me I should write a novel, her favourite form of story. Bina’s eyes lit up when she talked about literature. Such an escape. Such an emotional ride. Such a rich pleasure entering that amazing new world. She said something like, “A writer can put into words something that I feel but I don’t know how to articulate. They can explain my world to me and give me the words to explain it to someone else. You don’t know what a gift that is. A writer can make me feel like I am not alone. Thank you for creating words that some of us can’t live without.” And then she gave me shit for not writing blog posts often enough. But what do I have to say how that I am out of the soap opera?

I am extremely happy.

So perhaps the investigation now is: this life. This happy life. How did we get here and how do we enjoy it? How do we never take it for granted? How do we give back? Ooh I like that. I don’t have the answer to those questions yet. And isn’t good writing all about those questions? Indeed.IMG_3710





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