I’ve written about happiness several times on this website over the years. Happiness is a subject I’m interested in, as a purposeful goal, not a random happenstance. I looked back recently on the very first post I ever wrote about happiness and had mixed and new feelings about it. For one thing, that particular “moment” of happiness didn’t last in its then form. But second, I didn’t give up on happiness and came to realize it wasn’t a one-time mission to be accomplished and forgotten. If you want it, it’s an ongoing pursuit, a regular reconvening within oneself, taking stock and re-prioritizing and reevaluating direction. Many of the things I’ve said in the past, I find to have held true, but I have new thoughts today and this is a combination.
Gratuitous happy photo.
My life isn’t perfect, but I do love my life, and that is because I live my life for myself rather than for other people. This isn’t as self-centered as it sounds. Pursuing happiness is a factor of self-interest, not of selfishness. Selfishness is not caring about how other people feel. Self-interest is caring about how other people feel then balancing that against caring about how you feel, too, and accepting that you’re not responsible for anyone else’s happiness, only your own. And tending to your own happiness is a big enough responsibility without trying to manage other people’s, believe me.
There has been more than one period in my life when I was just putting one foot in front of the other, pushing a boulder of negativity off my chest every day to get up and keep going. Happiness is not always easily achieved. Happiness is being surrounded by people, places, and things that feel good, down deep, that feel peaceful and positive and right, for me and for my family. More than once I’ve made radical changes in my life to pursue happiness–and each time it started with opening my heart to a tough question. Are you happy? This is a massively frightening question to face because if the answer is no, then what are you doing to do about it? Most likely, the answer to that question is going to involve a lot of trouble. And require putting yourself on a road with no map, letting your heart find the way on its own.
It’s true that nothing worth having comes easy, and it’s possibly more true of happiness than anything else. But it’s also true that it’s worth having, so don’t be afraid of the hard questions and the hard answers or letting your heart have its way. Usually, it knows best anyway.
Today, I am happy at Sassafras Farm. Two years ago, I’d never heard of Sassafras Farm nor could I imagine it. I have no idea if I will always be happy at Sassafras Farm, or if it will always be my home. Be not alarmed, I have no plans to go anywhere, but I have lived enough life these days to know that the future is always a story that has yet to be told, that there are always surprises in life. I am enjoying the here and the now, and that is all we have, you know? And I am enjoying not knowing the future. In the darkest days of Stringtown Rising, I wish I could have seen the future as the gift unwrapped that it was. Today, I have learned to view it as such.
Near the end of my book, I write this paragraph:
I know that I’m writing the next story in my life each day, but I only see it by the page–which is the way life should be lived. It makes us better characters if we don’t know where our story is headed.