Last week I had lunch with a friend who has just quit her job to write full time. She's single and self-supporting... how brave to step off this way to pursue a dream. To pursue happiness, our right as American's.
It is an illusive thing, this state of being: happy. I had always thought I was happy. I was able to laugh and joke with family and friends. That's happy isn't it? I never locked myself in the bathroom to cry, or carried around a prescription for Zoloft. I must have been happy. Whatever frustration and discontent I felt was credited to life. I've always been a "seek the silver lining" kind of girl, and wandered the earth in my chosen role: Happy Person. I played this part long enough to forget it was an act, to lose sight of the fact that I had become a bit player in a huge cast and instead of seeking happiness through change I was settling for a make believe emotion.
Princess was about 11 when I remembered what real "happy" felt like. It was a simple thing, we'd taken her and Soup to Kings Island, the first time I'd been to an amusement park without the burden of a couple of toddlers, a kid in a stroller and afternoons on a bench while Pap rode rides with the older kids. On this day we'd paired up boys against the girls, determined to ride everything at least once. We started on the beast, Pap and Soup somewhere in the back, me and Princess in front. No cares in that moment except surviving the first big roller coaster I'd been on ... well ever. They were much smaller and tamer pre-kids. The car crept up the first hump, the sound of grinding, straining gears loud in my ears. We topped the hill and sailed into the descent so fast the scrunchee on my ponytail flew off. I looked over at Princess, her hair also loose and flying wild. She had her hands in the air and was screaming "whoo hoo! Wheeee", and in that moment, recklessly caroming around a man made contraption of steel and fiberglass, my daughter by my side, nothing to clean, fix, tend or worry about atleast right then, I felt it. Happy.
"There it is... that's what it feels like." I remember thinking. Life for my family has never been the same. That was eight years ago. I've tried many things in this pursuit of happiness, and I think I'm finally honing in on my personal recipe. The evidence is there... I wake up at dawn every morning instead of hitting the snooze button. My first thought is "what do I get to do today?". I'm interested once more in everyone and everything. There is still the day job, but the finish line on that piece of misery is in sight. I'm actively pursuing happiness.