Posts Tagged ‘Religion and Spirituality’

Illusory Happiness

February 15, 2012 Leave a comment


It’s been said that, “When you look at your life, the greatest happiness [es] are family happiness [es].” One of the questions, for me, is whether that statement is true or not.

I’ve had many happy moments in my life with and without family members in attendance. I tend to focus on how one quantifies happiness.

Does extreme happiness always have to be accompanied by tears, for instance? Or, is such a deep emotion as true happiness so overpowering that expression of any kind is beyond the ability of the one experiencing it?

What about a lack of happiness? I’ve seen occasions when great sorrow, not happiness, was what took over when family arrived. Where does a person draw the line of family involvement in one’s personal happiness?

Here’s another example of relevant questions. How many degrees of happiness does a person feel and does everyone feel the same degrees of that emotion and label them the same way? I don’t think anyone has a definitive answer to either of these questions simply because each person’s emotional thermometer registers feelings differently based on personal experience.

When you realize how genuinely moved a person is to meet you, does that evoke great happiness, sweet satisfaction, or deep humility coupled with gratitude. If humility, does that constitute a portion of happiness? If you feel satisfaction only, does that mean that conceit has crept into your thermometer?

You see how complicated emotional definitions and signals are? What if you feel nothing at all except seeming boredom when someone exhibits excitement at shaking your hand and talking with you face-to-face? After all, this could be a cousin that you’ve never met before.

Does your lack of emotion mean that you really don’t want to know any more family, that you’re too important to worry about those on the fringe of the family, or that you’re just a jerk?

Or, could it mean, as it does with me, that caution and trust issues rule your actions and responses during first meetings?

Circumstances dictate our responses to events in our lives. The exact experience also contributes to those responses, as well as the circumstances immediately preceding an event.

For instance, many years ago, when I was teaching in an elementary school, I’d gone outside during recess. I needed some quiet time without children’s voices in my ears or designs on my next thought. I spent my ten minutes breathing in the scent of blooming forsythia and tulips in nearby private yards, listening to birds announcing their romantic intentions, and generally decompressing. The afternoon sun warmed my face and hands, clean air wafted past my nose, and a sense of rightness filled me.

On my way back to the classroom, a curious sensation flooded my body. I stopped walking. I closed my eyes and felt my whole body fill with blinding light from the inside. I could see it, behind my eyelids, flooding through me. Such a wave of pure joy washed over me that there were no words, no other sensations, no sound. All else in the world fell away, leaving me held within this personal lightshow.

It ended, and I nearly cried. I felt in that instant the most amazing happiness. I’ve yearned for another taste of it ever since. I wait for the day I can feel that sensation, that joy, again. Where it came from, or why it came, I have no idea. I don’t care.

I only know that that one blazing event taught me more about joy than a lifetime of other experiences. Nothing can compare to it. I wish everyone could have their own instant of pure joy that they can aspire to feel it again.



A Matter of Geography

February 11, 2012 1 comment

Yesterday’s prompt urged me to talk about whether I live close to my family or not. How can I answer that truthfully? No and Yes.

My nuclear family is in the Midwest. Extended family lives in the South. Then there are all of those individuals and couples who live in many places and whom I adopted and think of as family.

I’m an equal opportunity adopter. I often adopt blood family members of those I’ve added to my family album. My adopted sister Jo, known to many as BJ (I have no blood sister,) has a slew of family members whom I’ve included as family. I know many of them. Friends who’ve become family over the years bring their biological extensions along for the journey of friendship, and I prefer it that way.

I’ve lived hundreds or thousands of miles from my blood kin for most of my adult life, for no other reason than I like living in the West and they prefer to live where they’ve always been. Their roots are there, in the soil of the Midwest and the South. I don’t have roots into the soil anywhere.

Some might call me a free spirit, but I don’t know that I really fit that definition, either. I’m not a true non-conformist. I simply find no need to stay in one place for longer than is required to accomplish whatever task I have there.

I could no more work an entire lifetime at one job than I could breathe fire and survive unscathed. I have too many interests, too many questions, to remain tied to one place, one job, or one residence.

Hmm, that does sort of sound like a free spirit, though, doesn’t it? But, I’m still not a non-conformist.

I carry and conform to many of my parents’ morals. I may not believe the same way they did, but the framework of those beliefs is intact and holding up well. How I choose to act on those beliefs is entirely the result of my own perspective and experience.

None could call me the “black sheep,” either. I like to think of myself as being well received and loved within the family. I might raise the occasional eyebrow, but I haven’t been banned from family functions.

Closeness isn’t measured by miles. That’s my belief. I talk to my father every day before he goes to bed. My brother and I text each other on an infrequent basis. I communicate with extended family by phone and online semi-regularly and get reports often on family doings and personal conditions.

I’m as close to them as I would be in the same town, except that it’s not face-to-face. Our mobile society and the advent of computer technology have made all of this possible. I don’t have to think of myself any longer as the dreamer who left the family and wandered out west to seek my fortune and whom they’ll never see again.

What I find interesting is that it took everyone so long to accept the fact that I don’t belong where they are, but that I have a need to live closer to the Pacific than the Atlantic Ocean. I’ve always been a sunset kinda gal rather than one for sunrise. Maybe that’s why I live here and they live there.