If you asked what I think about happiness, I would have to say that it’s never been my natural default setting. That’s probably true for most of us, though I can only speak for myself and say that my hard-wiring and experiences have made it hard to cross the room from shadow to light and to stay there.
Life has its moments of happiness and reaches of time that stand out, overall, as good times, and I’m all for increasing the number and lifespan of those. (Also, I’m fascinated with Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project.) But happiness is not a constant state that I’ve ever sought to achieve. I need to experience and examine all the shades of things, opaque against light, the middle grays. What’s bright is brighter against what’s dark.
But today was flush with happy moments, and I noticed them all.
The obvious pick for #1.: Meeting Veronica in Occoquan, Virginia for a stroll through town, a yummy lunch and – best of all – a long chat. She’s gorgeous, interesting, talented and funny – all in such generous measure that you won’t even hold a grudge over her to-die-for curls.
2. Pretty river towns. They get you with all their history and charm, quaint houses and shops. I fall for it every time.
3. The rain. There’s this: I love rainy days, but usually prefer to watch from inside, where it’s warm and I’m folded into a sweater or an afghan. But I didn’t mind walking in the drizzle today – though, admittedly, that may be a tribute to the fantastic company.
4. On the way to meet my daughter at the bus, I crossed a vast bed of yellow leaves. Some lay face down as the rain fell on their pale backs. Moons. But the rest were face up, small suns against the gloom of all that weather, as though they had captured all the day’s light just so they could give it back.
5. This label in one of the shops: “Wood tasting spoon.” Mmm, this one’s maple. What did you get? Told you she was funny.
6. Laughing when we realized that we didn’t even go raunchy with #5. Until we did. Really laughed.
7. Looking back and realizing that I didn’t take photos of any of it. I think, at times, taking pictures can distract from the experience of a moment. Not always, but sometimes. I almost got out my camera when I passed the park with the white gazebo set against a fire of leaves. But then I thought, no. I just stood and took it all in. The pretty gazebo. The pear tree with its dark trunk and branches wet with rain under a parachute of yellow leaves. The river in the background. No photos, but I recorded what I saw – you can be sure of that – and it will stay with me.
8. Wait. I did take one photo, at the Blue Arbor Cafe (Try the BLT.). These may be my favorite bathroom signs.