When I was working a temp job this winter, on my breaks I would circle the buildings and read books. It beat sitting in the break room, I mean, I’d been sitting for three hours and I wasn’t about to take my fifteen or thirty minutes and go and sit some more, you know? Anyway, I would read library books, books borrowed from friends, books from home, and books I’d start but never finish. One of the books I finished was The Happiness Project (I’m sure you’ve heard of it, I bought it at the Kroger checkout so that means it’s been read by grannies, nannies, and everyone else right?). That one took me a while, I kept putting it down and picking up Jhumpa Lahiri’s masterpiece short story collection, The Interpreter of Maladies (a book which makes me very, very happy). What I took away from The Happiness Project, even with the vague way that I digested it, was that we should fully embrace exactly what makes us happy. We shouldn’t dilute or adjust to the preferences or whims of anyone but our selves. Gretchen Rubin, the author of the book and the blog, reiterates over and over her goal to “Be Gretchen”: don’t pretend to enjoy activities, foods, books, etc. that you don’t enjoy at all or with your whole being. Don’t put effort into those things at all. Funnel your attention to things that bring you joy and don’t pay any mind if others find those loves pedestrian or fluffy (or snooty and academic). I’ve been trying to take that advice, to swallow that medicine to the last sticky orange drop.
So what makes me happy? I haven’t done a list in ages, which probably makes my blog an inauthentic one. Well, lists make me happy, so I should indulge myself and my readers, right?
*Staying at home with my son. Being there when he gets home from school. Keeping our house in calm order, making it a sanctuary of candlelight and art. Watching my son grow into a lanky sage
*Statues of the Buddha and Buddhist goddesses. They have brought me the peace that no bleeding Jesus painting has. Why is it that Christian art has to (usually) be so painful? So much suffering, so much guilt and pity mixed with fear. Usually the only harmonious ones are those of Mary and the infant Jesus. She makes me happy. She holds my hand when I’m scared.
*Living here. Drinking coffee in “my” coffee shops and popping into my favorite stores to buy pretty things. Being close to family again and reconnecting with my friends and making new ones. Mountains and fireflies and rolling rivers. Heaven in green and blue.
*Writing. Dear God, writing. The clickety-clack of the keyboard completes me.
*My husband, my husband, my husband. We’ve been together such a long while that sometimes I feel like we share a brain. I see the beauty in the comfortable, and the surprise of the bursts of passion that seriously are better than the hesitant heat of our first months together. This heat is deeper and burns brighter. It smolders, settles, then explodes and gathers strength.
*Yoga, coffee, strawberries.
*Synchronous fireflies (especially the gold ones), and historic buildings.
*Bookstores, old books new books fat books tiny books plugging away trying to finish books books that change books that grow books that break your heart and books that put your heart back together again.
*God, the Universe, and Everything.
*purple and grey
*Pretty rocks, museums
*Living and breathing in the presence of Art. Helping to share it and incubate it.
*Aluminum foil and owls.
*Old photos and different worlds.
All of these things, even the pretty and small ones, make me feel good right down to my toes. There’s more, of course. But I need to get more coffee and I need to be more present in this particular morning. Writing sucks me in hard and I usually have to tunnel my way back out of my own head. Is there anything you love that you’ve been afraid to love all the way?
Oh, and for one of the best articles about reading while walking, see this perfect post by Deborah Bryan: Reading While Walking.