samedi, décembre 08, 2012

Is he happy? Depends...

"He's put on weight" said a friend after our encounter.

Putting on weight could be a sign of contentment -- right?

And, she added, he doesn't look happy.

I debated that with her.  What can one tell about someone else from a moment's glance?

Long run, I doubt he's going to be a happy man. But I wish him well. No one deserves to be miserable. Right now, though, I'm clueless. Wouldn't even want to hazard a guess.

But our conversation got me thinking about the nature of happiness (yea, I know, just call me a blogging Aristostle).

In part, I've been pondering this because the past year and a bit has been so challenging.  Last year we were just coming out of the ordeal of the kid's father's cancer treatment, which was hideous (though not as hideous as other people's cancer treatments).

This fall has twinned an internship with the second required course of statistics in my master's program. On top of commuting an hour to work in completely new circumstances, I've been doubling down on the course, going in an extra night to audit another section.

All of this on top, like a cherry on a volcano, of my unceasing anxiety about our daughter (more to come).

Yes to almost falling asleep at the wheel, eating meringues as breakfast on the way to work, not getting enough exercise, back spasms that make it almost impossible to walk now and then.

No to happiness.

But that's not necessary. I'm beginning to realize that happiness is also a choice.

I'm not going as rad on this one as my internship teacher, who said to a sad-looking student in our last class that melancholy is all  in your mind.

She perked up right after that (insert irony).

But I do believe that what we see, or refuse to see, can affect the way that we feel.

There's a lot I haven't been seeing in my  crazed rush from student meeting to dinner to dashing off a column due yesterday (well, at least it wasn't yesteryear!).

I haven't taken time to watch the moon dance among the stars we see so luminously out in this semi-rural village.

I haven't taken the time to listen carefully to the Grieg and Schubert that pours from my computer speakers.

I haven't walked slowly down the roads I see three or four times a week, looking for changes in our seasonal landscape(and I don't mean roadkill).

Last night I gathered up fragrant pine branches for the front porch swing.

Juniper berries peek out from the arrangement by the door.

 Lights glimmer within our cozy house.

There will be time eventually for laughter and celebration, a feast to prepare for friend and stranger alike.

There will also be time for gratitude.

Now is that time.

Every moment is an opportunity.

Happiness is indeed in the demeanor, and voice, and words, of those who chose to embrace it -- eyes wide open.

mercredi, décembre 05, 2012

We will not be able to say "we didn't know"

It doesn't take long for your world to shake, if slightly -- to rotate enough so that you look at things a bit differently.

It was a lovely morning, most unlike the way we normally imagine late fall (it might be time to toss away the templates, anyway).

A good day to play hooky from the conundrums that have been playing merry hell with my peace of mind.

Write about them! my son yelled at me recently.  It about kills us to fight with each other, so he deals with it by bellowing.

Post them on your blog!

Perhaps I will -- later.

Yesterday, it was other people's pain that concerned me.  Other people's agony, out of all proportion to the constant low level sadness that continues to affect me, like a wound that never heals.

Glancing up at the sky and the trees as  I hiked past streams and over bridges,  I had my phone app tuned into NPR yesterday when reporters broke into the talk show for news.

A Syrian school bombed.  At least 13 children killed.

Ninth graders, these kids.  The age of my son and his friends.

Maybe the young boys and girls gathered for meetings of the young business leaders of Syria.  Perhaps they hung out in the lunchroom, telling stupid jokes to their friends. Maybe they played trumpet in the band, as he does.

No more.

I imagined the grief of their parents -- the wild, agonized cries, torn from the deepest part of their souls.

I imagined the school, rubble scattered everywhere.

I imagined Assad's demonic airplanes flying overhead.

"Never again," Jews said after the Holocaust. And the nation of  Israel has made itself into a nation so strong that it could blow  its neighbors to smithereens multiple times (whether this is a good thing is a debate for another time).

Yes, again.

Again in Cambodia.

Again in Guatemala.

Again in Bosnia.

Again in Rwanda.

Again in Syria.

We cannot dare to claim that we don't know.

Dear God, if we used our imaginations this world would collapse from the force of our grief.

I could have laid on the ground and wailed and beat my fists bloody against the macadam..

Instead, I walked home, and drove to my internship -- the sky as blue, the sun as bright, the air as lovely.

Except for knowing that, as Hillary Clinton said today -- Assad will go. We just don't know, she added, how many people will have to die before he does.  Including children.