Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Pursuit of Happiness, lol

VooDoo Diva sitting on the shelf at Brookside pottery, always smiling and waiting for a home.

Today a friend posted a quote about happiness on facebook and I cannot get it out of mind without writing about it. I tried to boost myself out the door and "get on with the day" but instead headed for my claw footed bathtub for a soak. It is a great place to think. I wanted to think about happiness which gets a little tricky.

The quote that started this is:

"Taisen Deshimaru, a Japanese Soto Zen Buddhist teacher writes: If you are not happy here and now, you never will be."

If you want to be a happy person that puts a lot of pressure on you. I get a little self doubt if I start questioning it. Would a "happy" person think like that? Wouldn't a truly happy person just say "Oh yes, and push like, lol comment on facebook, the over the fence communication system of our day?

I generally feel happy, am told I am a "happy" person and try to surround myself with happy people. Blag. The thought of that makes me unhappy. Sounds like everyone is either smoking pot, on anti-depressants, overly religious or just plain dumb. Oops, how could a happy person say such a thing? I don't want to be a PollyAnna but I do like the braids.

A friend recently gave me a treat of Richard Sadaris ticket to hear him read. I was happy. We sat on the back row, giving me a feeling of freedom and superiority being a bit claustrophobic. And I laughed harder than I have in ages. I laughed until my throat hurt. I left happy and feeling like someone had hit me laughingly in the chest. Is that happy? Or is that just laughing, some kind of evolved instinct?

Having goals makes me happy. In the early years of my marriage I confess, my husband and I were getting a bit bored with each other. Goals. I knew we needed a mutual goal. We are both a bit type A, asking a lot out of life, and we needed to head in the same direction. Can you be type A non hyper active? That's me for all my friends that are reading this saying "Well maybe John is type a but not Linda."
So I thought about it and we decided we would hike across Tennessee and John would write about it and I would photograph it. That made us both happy. One step at a time, it slowed life down and helped us get down to the basics. 567 miles in 62 days of happiness. Sometimes sleeping on the ground, spread eagle and holding on tight while the earth is spinning is great.

I read in a book about the Hopi Indian tribe that never has a Hopi said, "Stop the world. I want to get off." And then the book elaborated about the Hopi sense of time and the calmness of the culture. That sounds happy to me but that was over 25 years ago. Is it still true? Was it ever really true?

Recently, given the opportunity, I would have gladly hopped out of this mind and body to give myself a break. Stop the world. I don't want to get off. I just need a break. This goal thing is getting out of hand. I don't do illegal drugs but I did drink a cup of real Kava the other night to try and "turn off." It tastes like drinking dirt and it only helped me go to sleep. By morning I was ready to hit the road again. It is too easy for me to forget to take time for myself and relax.

"Slow down, you move to fast. You gotta make the morning last. It's...." Forgot the rest of the song. Hope that was not the important part.

I watched a group of friends recently pursue their happiness. It seemed to be that none of them would be happy until they each found a husband, a rich husband. It was quite a scramble. They all buffed their bodies and "smiled" at rich men a lot. My concern was if they would be able to find love if they could not give love a little more. Was love really even involved? They all did it. I hope they are happy and have found love. If they stay married and keep smiling I guess the answer is yes. They are happy. I often wish I could be that self centered and get the body back in shape and spend some cash.

Spending cash does not always work either. Before my first child was born I had a miscarriage. Just when I thought OK, we are really having a baby and that will be fun. Boom. In my mind I could intellectually accept it. The baby probably would have had problems of some sort. I can try again etc. So, I decided I would take the deposit, all $500 I had given the Doctor's office for the baby having experience, and go shopping to make up the difference. I left every store I visited all day empty handed. Cash, as long as I have enough for basic needs, does not do it for me

Sometimes I wonder if crazy people are really just happy people to the extreme. Then I hear the other side, the scared and angry stories about truly diagnosed crazy people

I am happy when I cook. I am happy when I am making art alone. I am happy when my kids and husband are happy. I am happy when I am exploring, traveling and learning. I am happy when I surround myself with intelligent and interesting people.
I am not happy when I get on the scales after I cook. I am not happy when I can't think straight because people won't leave me alone so I can make art. I am not happy when I worry about family and friends. I am not happy when I think I am not happy.

How much is happiness related to gender? My husband and I were talking about this the other night. Is it more difficult to be happy if you are female? I am not sure. But, thinking about why so many women are not happy is a worthy thought. I am sad when I see a woman's happiness come only through her husband. That is not to be confused with appreciating, supporting and loving your husband. But in fact, many woman's careers which can bring happiness are greatly altered by the husbands job and motherhood. You have to be able to pull off what you want in any location and in stolen moments. And, I think it is mostly OK.

Yes, I am happy most of the time. It helps to be a basic optimist by nature. A friend told me you can change your habits but not your basic personality. It makes me wonder if we can control our happiness. I think the answer is not black and white but how about "sort of."

So Mr ever so smart Zen Buddist teacher. Yes I am happy now and will probably always be. Right after I take a nap.

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