Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Many Different Roads, Paths, and Alleyways to Happiness

I met a good friend of mine for dinner a few nights ago, and she taught me something that I hadn’t thought about before: that happiness doesn’t come in a predestined size or package and doesn’t happen along a certain road or pathway. Now you would think, my being all self-reflective and business, that I would have thought about that already, but I haven’t. I haven’t thought about happiness in a way that involves more than one road; I’ve always thought about it as a one road, probably a highway, type of deal. But what if the road isn’t one road but many roads? Or what if it isn’t a road at all? What if it’s a path or an alleyway, and it’s crazy crooked instead of straight?

This friend just had a baby, probably the most beautiful little boy that I’ve ever seen. And according to her, she is doing “everything backwards,” because she had a baby before being married to the love of her life. But, despite this backwardness, she is the happiest that I have ever seen her. She is one of the best mothers I have ever seen, and she practically glows. It’s beautiful. She shows me that sometimes the things that you haven’t actually planned for make you the happiest, and friends, I can relate to that. Despite my control-freakish tendencies, I can relate to the unexpected no matter how much I avoid it because the unexpected happens to everyone, even me. And it’s usually something that I haven’t thought about happening, hence the “unexpectedness” of it.

I treat life like a game of chess. I try to think of EVERY possible outcome of things in my life, but the problem with that is I’m wasting time. I can’t predict the future y’all, yet I’m wasting time trying to do just that. I try to out-think my own life when I can’t do that. No amount of strategy is going to help me to know what’s coming up next. And I like to claim that I don’t want to know because that would take the fun out of life, right? But that’s a lie; I do want to know because the unexpected scares me. I think that’s why I think of happiness as a highway. With highways not a lot of unexpected things happen, and if it does there is always an exit right up the road to turn off on. It’s not like pathways where if you “turn off” you could end up lost in the woods, and I ain’t trying to get lost y’all. But if I’m always planning for the unexpected thing that I couldn’t possibly expect what sorts of happiness am I missing out on? What path am I not taking just because I’m afraid to get lost?

I tend to take the comfortable highway, and it doesn’t turn out the way that I predicted that it would. I tend to get lost on the “comfortable highway.” Those darn exits get confusing, and I always miss the right exit and stick things out longer than I should. Because when I get on a highway, well a highway that I really want to be on, I forget about the exits until I’m in Timbuktu and I’m hitchhiking to get back to the start of the trip sans many of the things that I started the trip with.

I would say that I’m happier now, on the path that I haven’t travelled before, the path to finding myself; I don’t wish for happiness at 11:11 anymore like I used to. I wish for more tangible things like my ankle healing faster or being able to run within the next few weeks. How interesting is it that I wished for happiness all the time along the “comfortable” road, yet I don’t wish for happiness at all now. I wished for happiness all the time with people who I thought made me happy, but I have people in my life now who share in my happiness, instead of making it or controlling it. And I am grateful for my friend inadvertently pointing this out to me. Sometimes the road or path or alleyway to happiness is crooked or backward or doesn’t look at all the way you thought it would, but you can’t predict happiness. You just have to live it and be all carpe diem because sometimes path you never thought would make you happy makes you the happiest of all.

Here’s a song, “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence and the Machine that relates to my post…mainly for the line “happiness hit her like a train on a track” because you never know when happiness will hit you J

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