A Backward Glance at Happiness
Despite the tears and hugs and prayers about several painful situations, hope was in plentiful supply while despair was being left behind.
I was so struck by this not because we were being unrealistic but because we were being completely realistic. No one was hiding from the truth. We recognized that there are no scales of justice in real life: bad things happen to good people, relationships sometimes crumble, illness doesn’t pick victims based on age or virtues and people with large egos sometimes prevail.
But we also knew that attempting to make sense of this imbalance only results in one thing: wasted time. So instead, we chose to simply acknowledge life’s imperfections while spending our energy enjoying what we could.
That’s when I realized that happiness is not something that exists only where sadness, frustration and anger don’t.
Instead, happiness exists despite them and right alongside them, and it doesn’t require an absolutely perfect moment.
It jumps into your lap while you are feeling lost amid hundreds of other students at an elementary school assembly when one of the performers walks off the stage and asks you to dance.
It reassures you when you skip classes during your senior year of college to hang out at a lake with friends because you know you only have days left before you will go your separate ways. Despite the fear of leaving the safety of a college cocoon and being forced to test your wings, you know you are enjoying a fleeting moment that will quickly become a treasured memory.
It stays with you when a few people are saying unfair and untrue things about you yet even more people surround you with their love and support.
And it embraces you at a funeral service when you laugh at a funny story about someone you loved but who can no longer share your amusement.
I would never attempt to define happiness anymore than I would attempt to define love. But I know I can see it in every memory I have. Sometimes it is silent and sometimes it is loud. But it is always there and, even more importantly, I know it will always be in the memories I have yet to make.