I can’t think of one single memory that was the most joyful in my life. Not because I haven’t experienced joy, but because I can’t compare them and say one was better than the rest.
I think, in times of true joy, one is too enraptured in the moment to think and compare one instance of joy to the last.
Standing at the top of a mountain after a 12-hour climb; clouds, valleys, lakes and mountain-peaks spread out in dizzying vastness all around.
Hit a stride while running, and suddenly I feel weightless, legs propelling me forward so fast it feels almost like flying. Somehow, the burn in my chest makes it even better.
A harmonious zone when working on a restaurant line; body moving with dexterity and precision that the mind can barely keep up with, every team-member in tune to the other, working in a flow that is almost a dance.
When I get so lost in writing a story, that my hands can’t keep up with the thoughts flowing out of my mind, the words I am writing, always a few seconds behind my imagination.
Maybe it’s because I overthink things all the time, but for me, joy is being completely engaged in something, so much that I stop thinking and contemplating what I am doing, no longer wondering where my life is going or comparing this time to another.
Joyfully lost in the moment.
Memories of Blood and Soul
I don't know what Heaven might be and they say before you die you see a flashing of moments that consist of your life in its entirety and I imagine mine will be consumed by great and awful regret and shame but there might be a few glimpses still that sketch their way into the billows of the firmament beyond earth.
I remember my grandfather teaching me how to fish and introducing me to Ray Charles. He taught me how to carry a football and how to treat a woman, how to drive at six years old and how to play chess. Every Friday night I'd stay with my grandparents and he'd set up the living room into a professional wrestling ring and I'd stand way up on the couch and say, with my best Hulk Hogan impersonation, "I hear you been running your mouth old man, now you're gonna get it," and he'd say, "You want some you little whipper-snapper, come get some," before sacrificing his bones for my enjoyment while I body-slammed him on the carpet.
My grandmother grew up on a farm in Athens, Tennessee. She fed the horses and rode one of them each morning, alongside the route of a train, racing it beside the tracks and the conductor would pull down the horn while it blazed on with my grandmother's horse kicking up the dirt of earth like one of God's finest achievements that is the horse.
Her older sister was brought into the world by a drunk doctor who accidentally smashed her head in during delivery and she'd live out her entire life with retarded response mechanisms while understanding everything around her, internally, perfectly fine. She was helpless and brilliant simultaneously. Her name was Pamela-Ann and she had a childish smile even well into her sixties. My grandmother took care of her for her whole life until she died. She's the sweetest woman in the entire world, my grandmother, everyone who knows her agrees and she tried to teach me the piano when I was young, then took a look at my chubby hands and said delicately, "I just don't believe you have the fingers for the piano, Mikers." My brothers have called me Chubby Hands ever since.
My paternal grandfather tried to teach me carpentry just before he passed away. We were building a bench together when he died. He was a tough dude, Jesus he was tough. When he played football in college, leather helmets, there's one play, after a couple martinis he really relished in retelling, and we all loved to hear it, countless times. He got tackled the play previous and some bastard stepped on his face with their cleats and so the next play my grandfather ran the ball right at him, popped him in the jaw with his forearm and broke the asshole's nose.
His wife, my grandmother, comes from a set of parents who were True-Blue Christians and at the turn of the century, over a hundred years ago, were missionaries in China to preach Gospel, sacrificed their health and well-being and Western lifestyle in the name of Jesus. They traveled in a ship across the Pacific through storms and months and starvation, doing what they believed they were called to do. They were persecuted and suffered for years during their mission, all the while maintaining supreme faith in the Christian God.
Now, my family is not particularly Christian, that is none of us were really raised in the church but my grandmother still sings in the Choir every Sunday. There's something Holy in her aura, the way she speaks and how she carries herself, in the enchanting water-color of her eyes. Her soul is next to godliness but she won't tell anybody about it. She's the only live-ass Christian left and I got the privilege of inheriting some of her blood.
These are more than memories, it's the flesh and heart that made me up from darkness, the void of nothing, these are the souls who resurrected my very being from the flakes of dust.
A joyful moment
Write about your most joyful memory.
Are you kidding me? That’s the essay topic?
I looked up from my paper and gazed around the classroom. I wasn’t the only one more than a little annoyed. We paid good money for these courses. We had certain expectations of the rigor. We weren’t post-pubescent youngsters spending daddy’s money, boozing four or five nights a week and whooping for joy when the professor fed us pablum and expected the same in return. All of us were mid-career, some mid-life or even post-mid-life, adults, searching for a new – perhaps, better – path. Who simultaneously were working full time to pay the bills, including our tuition, perhaps support families and even our own children in college. How the hell was waxing poetic about the most joyful moment of our lives supposed to help us along this road we were climbing? Some of us were trying to become captains of industry…or something similar. Seriously, who cares? Why care? I mean, the fact that we were in this stuffy, inadequately ventilated classroom, studying Intro to Philosophy with 103 other people on a Friday night in January, kind of said it all. What joy?
I dropped my head onto the desk.
Joyful moment…joyful moment…joyful moment…
It was like a mantra, an incessant drumbeat in my mind without any corresponding images onto which I might seize in order to mold them into a meaningful piece of prose for this insipid essay.
Joyful moment…joyful moment…joyful moment…what does that even mean? I mean, Nietzsche would say don’t waste your time, right? We should not be searching for happiness…indeed we should be in a constant state of dissatisfaction that leads us to work towards a goal…and there is always a new goal…or there should be…happiness shouldn’t be the goal or you are destined to lifelong misery…The joy is in the struggle…or something like that. Okay, whatever. What about the stoics? I don’t know. What? Something like if you develop moral values like compassion rather than focusing on events beyond one’s control, you’ll have a life filled with joy. Okay, and?
Joyful moment…joyful moment…Joyful Noise…good movie. Great music…From here to the moon and back, love that Dolly…oy… Lots of joy in the Bible and religious music…Is this about religion? –This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad… Yay! We woke up. Woopty doo. Well, actually… perhaps…
I lifted my head and began to write.
I woke up this morning. My lungs were clear as I took my first conscious breath of the day. I could see the sun’s rays through my window. Though my eyesight is not perfect, I can yet enjoy the beauty of the world around me. I could appreciate the warmth of my blanketed bed, within four well-heated walls in a home I own. I could smell the fresh coffee the love of my life was making in the kitchen and hear his off-key humming as he did it.
The love of my life! I have someone to love who loves me. Who chooses me every day of our lives. And we have a child who is kind, who can take care of himself, who is healthy, who loves and is loved.
I have work that I enjoy. I have time, no, I make time, to write, to read, to paint, to draw. To do things that make me feel joyfully alive.
I woke up this morning. The news was bleak as ever, a shadow, nay, a black hole to suck the life and joy from anyone. But I refuse to dwell on what I cannot change. I cannot control anything beyond myself. Knowing this, I control my reactions, my attitude. My actions.
And therefore, my joy.
I woke up this morning. I greeted the world and everyone in it with a smile. Who knows what burdens another carries? Who knows when the smile of a stranger – or a friend – is just the medicine to spark a joyful moment?
If you were to weave together all the moments of one life, the result would not be a piece of fabric; nay, it would barely be a visible thread. Life is but a fleeting flicker of existence from which we aspire to extract meaning. Ephemeral, though it sometimes feels long and burden-full.
So, why focus on any particular moment when life itself is but a moment?
I woke up this morning. I still perceive myself as a part of this world, this life, with all its imperfections, and I am grateful.
Viewed through the prism of this gratefulness, the whole of my life is a joyful moment.
I have no idea what the professor’s goal was in assigning this essay, or if I met his objectives; but, my spirit was much lighter when I finished than when I started. I looked around the crowded room and smiled, realizing how happy I was to be there.
Cats and dogs do it, squirrels and rats do it, even the spotted hyena does it, labouring sedulously, giving birth to their young through a narrow penis like organ, with a birth canal space maxing out at one inch. Suddenly 10 centimeters doesn't sound so bad.
I can do this.
Why are the others screaming? They sound like angry hyenas. Have they no shame? No doubt, contractions hurt like a mother f'r, coming in waves unrelentingly, making me feel like I've been placed inside a vice controlled by some demonic craftsman determining my fate, tightening and tightening and tightening my entire bodily midsection until I am on the brink of a spontaneous eruption and then the damn devil takes his foot off the gas abruptly but barely long enough to allow me to recover my shit, and repeat, but I will not scream like the others.
I'd rather die.
These angels keep coming to me, I'm pretty sure more than one, bringing me ice chips, wiping my forehead with a cool cloth, telling me preprogrammed things that they must say inadvertently when they are off duty, even in their sleep. "You're doing great!" "You're almost there!" "Don't push just yet."
Don't push just yet? Is that something I can control?
And then the doctor comes in. Maybe I'm hallucinating from the prolonged pain but I believe he may have just placed a bet on a pony or was it placed on the weight of an enormous baby just delivered down the hall? There is some type of an exchange, maybe money, maybe a handshake, maybe both, I don't know for sure cause I can no longer open up my eyes or receive the appropriate auditory signal from my brain to my ears to fully capture my environment.
He introduces himself as if I don't already know him, but I think he uses the wrong name, "Hi I'm Patrick Saltzman," or maybe he said, "Why not pass me the salt," which makes even less sense. I do not reply. All the energy I can muster is happening down below my neck and anyway, my lips are now sealed; my silence is what it is; just a knee jerk response to trauma. I was trained by a maestro to keep my mouth shut; trained to keep secrets in the throes of a battle.
Next thing I know the doctors hand is up inside me, not in a good way and I am caught quite by surprise, a deer in the headlights, letting out a scream, a long primal guttural scream as powerful as a bomb or an oil rig under pressure sprung loose and it occurs to me that all these years I'd only been storing up my screams, like the squirrel that busied himself burying a big bushel of acorns but then forgot all about them. Releasing it feels so much better than dying, I can only surmise, and I don't see the need to apologize to anyone in the room, since they've obviously heard it before, although I am ashamed of myself for judging the others. They are after all only human, we all are after all only human and currently right here right now me and my birthing co-conspirators are kick-ass baby makers. Triumphantly, hear us roar.
The doctor says, "Okay Momma. "We" are ready to push." He says this to me nonchalantly like there is a magic button to press or a pedal to push. He looks like he could serve up some serious burgers right now, his bluish white hairnet neatly cradling his doctoral head and I do not balk at his use of the word "We" instead of "You" since what exactly do I stand to gain by correcting the man who is responsible for getting me over the finish line?
Women who are pregnant should not listen to the horror stories from other women about childbirth. One cannot prepare for excruciating pain. Fact is, childbirth hurts. A lot. Probably more than any other physical trauma the human body can withstand besides a conscious amputation which I am fortunate to know nothing about. Wanna know a secret? The end, the pushing part after the labour, does not hurt. At all. Don't get me wrong, it is hard work. Harder than anything else I've ever encountered. But I have survived countless battles and I will survive this one. I am using up every ounce of my strength beyond what I ever imagined I was capable of, but I feel no pain as my jewel presents herself to the world.
And one last really long satisfying push and she is officially born. Breathing with her lungs the same air that I breathe. I know this because the room erupts in a cheer, and she may have just left my womb but I can still feel her as a part of me. I lay back depleted, but undefeated, I am a victor, a champion with wide seeking eyes and searching arms, waiting patiently for my jewel.
"I want my baby." I say this commandingly as a mother through a flood of tears. I am a mother. She is my daughter and I am going to be her protector. "I want my baby."
"Okay Momma. She's coming. We're just checking all her vitals. She's doing fine. Yes she's doing fine. She's perfect."
Oh I know she is without looking at her. She is delivered, and so am I. Now in my arms, looking long and hard into her angelic face up close for the very first time, she gives birth to me. Everything I want and need is right here and everything else unsavory just withered away. The past is irrelevant.
I kiss her gently on the top of her head and breath.
This is my love story.
I am a mother.
My Mind’s Library
It’s a funny thing, your mind. You have to search within it for your own memories, and even though they’re yours, you can’t always find what you’re looking for.
Sure, there are those that you can call forth readily, and if you’re lucky, they appear in vivid color. You can smell and taste them exactly as they were. Get lost in them, even.
Other times it takes a while, requiring the kind of serious concentration that calls for a quiet room and closed eyes. And when you finally discover them, it’s as if you’re seeing them through a dirty window or a black and white TV set with the volumed turned low. You’re outside, looking in.
Still, those are better than nothing at all - the moments seemingly lost to you forever. How maddening it is to know that while you’re the captain of your own mind, you can still fail miserably at navigating it. In fact, you might never come to know it fully, to be able to traverse it with ease, so the best you can do is try to map it out a little more each day. Maybe you come up with tricks to help you remember things, or find a method that puts you in just the right headspace to travel safely through the crevices of your brain, where your most precious memories are tucked away. How well you employ these tactics, however, can depend on a lot of things, like the quality of your therapist or a mastery of meditation.
As for me, I think my own mind less like a world to be traveled and more like a library. At one time, it existed with just a single card catalog drawer hundreds of miles long. And instead of being organized alphabetically, the catalog order was ever changing - determined by things like my mood, predispotions and afflictions. This often made my mind’s dewey decimal system far from intuitive.
Take the current task of recalling my most joyful memory. If I were asked to do this exercise in the past, the process and outcome would be much different from today. Years of struggling with anxiety (and sometimes its morose best friend, depression) arranged my card catolog in such a way that made remembering happy moments quite difficult, even though I’ve had many and know they are in there, somewhere. It’s just that they were woven so deeply, not only into my mind but into the very muscle fibers of my overworked heart, that they were hard to see.
Back then, if I were to look up the word “joy” in the catalog of my mind, I’d quickly pull a card with a typed message that would read something like this:
“Joy rhymes with Boy. See boys’ whose names begin with D, S, K and M, to start.”
I’d then head to the Romance section of my mind’s library, which looks exactly like Trinity College Library in Dublin, complete with grand rolling ladders to help you reach the books on the top shelves and regal stone busts at the end of each one. Though unlike Trinity, my busts are all of amazing women, like Joan of Arc and Marie Curie and Maya Angelou and bell hooks.
The bust in Romance is Jane Austen, of course, and the shelves are quite cluttered. But thanks to my card catalog, I’d easily find the boys’ worn books and flip through their pages, recalling all the times they’d hurt me - called me names or lied to me or made me feel small - which, as you might easily note, is the very opposite of joy. This would happen because my anxiety organized the drawer with all the wrong cards up front. They’d never help me find what I was really looking for, but were much easier to thumb through than the cards stuck far in the back. Those required time and strength to get to and often came with a high risk of paper cuts.
Those days, if I found my mind wandering in such a way, I’d simply close the drawer, take a deep breath and try again. This time, I’d try to start further back and would be sure to announce my request with authority - I AM LOOKING FOR MY MOST JOYFUL MEMORY - because, well, I’m also the librarian here. Then one card or another would wiggle free and stick up just above the rest so I could see which to pull. Usually, if this was my second or third try, the card would be a bit closer to what I was looking for, but almost always end up leading me astray once more. Sometimes the path became long and dark.
Card One: “A name that is close to Joy is Jay. And it was a fitting name, indeed. See entry for Jay.”
Card Two: “Jay had a lot of joy in his life, didn’t he? He was a good person to the core. See Book of Jay and supplementary volumes on Youth, Hope, Failure and Death.”
I’d pull the suggested works and turn their tattered pages with care.
“Jay was genuinely kind to everyone. He had so many friends and you were lucky to be one of them for so long. You could tell he was loved because the church at his funeral was packed. People filled the pews like bleachers at a rock concert; there was even standing room only in the back. How sad for your childhood friend to die so young, when he was so good and you are not. So much joy he gave to others, so much left in the world for him to have, if only he’d been able to stay. I wonder if I’m making the most of my life. What if I die tomorrow? Have I even done anything worth while? I haven’t written a book. Haven’t been published. What’s the point of me being here if I don’t leave anything behind? If I don’t change anything for the better? And what if I die alone?”
Simply searching for my own memories was a kind of torture until one day, I’d simply had enough. After years of going on like this, I decided that if I were to keep on living - and I mean really living - I needed to convert my catalog entries over to digital. I needed more guidance, more speed and less room for human error if I was going to be able to access the right books of my life when I needed them most, and maybe, it would even help me rewrite their endings or create sequels. However it worked, I just hoped for a better system. So eventually, I slammed the old card catalog drawer closed for the last time.
The transition was hard. I had to do most of the work myself. So I booked another therapist appointment. You see, I tried to talk to someone three times before, and each time they never worked out. I always stopped going after a couple of sessions. And I can’t say for sure if it was them or me - I wasn’t ready or they were quacks or maybe a little bit of both - but it made my final attempt all the more difficult. It was yet another time I was forced to be emotionally naked, to simply spill myself at the feet of a complete stranger in the hopes that I might finally gain clarity and get that upgraded filing system for my mind, once and for all.
The process was exhausting, embarrassing and uncomfortable, until it wasn’t. Until it was relief, freedom and a deep sense of knowing myself - so much so that now, not only can I easily see my brain’s connection to high speed Internet (a jack had been there all along, hidden behind the main circulation desk) but most days, I can plug right in and have nearly all my joyful memories shown to me in HD. When I say, “I AM LOOKING FOR MY MOST JOYFUL MEMORY,” it goes a little something more like this:
I look upon the vast shelves of the libary of my mind, when a single light shines upon a particular bust on the left side of the room. I make my way forward to see that the bust of St. Brigid is gleaming before me, as if she was donning a halo. And it’s then that I feel a sudden breeze move my hair. With a quickness, a thick book with gilded pages floats in the air before me. I raise my hands and it gently lays itself open in my waiting palms.
From its pages, I do not simply read words, but live them. My senses come alive, and the air smells of burning peat that warms the center of my body and radiates to my finger tips and toes. My spirit shines from the glow of it, and I hear fiddle and tin whistle and harp as they fill the room. Women sing in Gaelic, and I am reminded of my deep connection not just to nature, but to this land in particular. I’ve never seen grass so green, winding mountain roads so narrow, as I wander past fairy mounds and cheerful shaggy sheep. I never cared much for gray weather before, but the mist of rain on my face makes me cleansed and I am whole. How strange it is, to visit a place you’ve never been, and somehow feel like you are finally home. So much so, that you can’t help but cry. It is a reunion a long time coming.
This is Ireland to me.
I visit the places where my great grandparents once lived and rest under the trees where I hope they sat before me. I eat coddle in Glasnevin and somehow feel blissful walking through an ancient graveyard on a wet day. I climb steep steps to the top of St. Anne’s Church and ring the Shandon Bells loudly for the whole city of Cork to hear. I look down upon the colorful buildings that blanket the rolling hills and think that this must be what a rainbow looks like when it’s fallen to Earth.
I have my first pint of Guinness at 11 AM and it feels like velvet and tastes like heaven in a glass. I dine in a castle and meet sweet old women who can tell where I’m from just by the shade of my red hair. A local choral group sings Danny Boy and I weep gratefully. My husband and I make friends with an Irish couple who hear our American accents and buy us their favorite drinks. They take us to the pubs with the best craic, with snugs and fireplaces and trad music and dancing and so much laughter. We stay out until the wee hours and I still feel the warm hugs and cheek kisses from our new found friends as we wander dizzily down the street, toward our warm bed.
I spy fairy doors and lucky trinkets in the bramble as we make our way through the grounds that lead to Blarney Castle. We trek up steep stone steps once again and beyond all reason, I am delighted to have a stranger dangle me from my ankles on the roof as I lean backwards to kiss the Blarney Stone, slick with rain. It’s supposed to give you the gift of gab, and I pray that for me that it translates to the page.
My first visit to Ireland is and will always be one of the most joyful memories of my life. And now, I can easily relive it any time I like.
My mind is at ease, its library forever open to me.
Most joyful memory
Sick with cancer, my wife held my hand as I was going through these painful moments. I could see the worry in her eyes as I realized she felt the pain with me. What a great comfort during these years as I go through cancer treatments. She is by my side and has stuck with me through it all. The joy of knowing that she loves and supports me is beyond just love and joy. This gives me strength to go on through this journey in my fight with cancer these past ten years.
was three o' clock,
and the time
was two thirty.
the yellow envelope
felt heavy in my hands-
like it was filled
and not paper,
a story printed
unedited and raw.
of ink and paint.
all the words
in a single binder,
i look at mine
and don't recognize
and tight shoes.
maroon and silver.
i didn't know
why i was
but i wandered
the girl on the stage
was someone i
she read out the
names and i clung
to them at first,
the stars had crossed
and an honorable
would tumble onto
but they passed,
arrived and faded,
like a dying
as she announced
that i given up
i almost didn't
catch it when
The Whee Effect
Mid-morning, on a quiet summer weekday fifty-some years ago, my mother and I went for a bike ride. Palmer Park beckoned, with its steep, twisty roads winding through cliffs and boulders; and Ponderosa pine, yucca, and other scrubby plants dotting the landscape. The park was only a few blocks from our home in Colorado Springs, and my brother and I knew all the best places to explore with the family dog. But this day it was just me and my mother.
Back then, my bike was a two-speed: stop or go. Mom had a fancier bike, all of three speeds. Our trek to the highest point in the park took awhile, standing up to pump the pedals, or getting off and pushing the bike up the steepest segments. I'm sure we had a canteen of tinny-tasting, lukewarm water with us to quench our thirst. I'm equally certain we gabbed and laughed the entire time. Mom was my best friend, after all.
Upon reaching the pinnacle, the choice before us was to turn around or take the back road out of the park. The first choice meant a slow, disciplined descent around the same curves we just conquered. The second choice involved a shorter, steeper path straight down.
Mom and I looked at each other and grinned. "Don't tell your father," she said. And then she lifted her feet from the pedals and let the bike coast. I followed suit.
I can still feel the gleeful abandonment of good sense as we picked up speed, fighting the urge to brake too soon. With our hair flying back from sweaty faces, we screamed in terrified delight. "Whee!"
My father found out about our recklessness, eventually. Years later, in fact. "You could have killed yourselves," he ranted. "What were you thinking?"
I looked at Mom. She looked at me. We smiled. "Whee!"
Hard To Pick A “Most Joyful Memory”
I tend to overlook all the good times in my life. When I do focus on them, though, I struggle to pick my favourite. There are so many awesome memories!
And which one is my most joyful memory?! Even harder to choose...
What I do know is that my most joyful memory would be when there was some other person present. But, I’ve got a joyful memory that I associate with practically every person of importance to me.
There’s the times spent with my grandfather. Hearing my grandmother praise my playing on the piano (when I was still just a kid). My dad teaching me some silly dance moves. My mother being proud of me. Or the time when I had boxing matches with my little sister and she ended up busting my nose...Three or four times...My baby brother wrapping me in a loving hug. Meeting my best friend in person. The list goes on...
Ah, yes! I think I found it. My most joyful memory:
Listening to my great-grandmother tell the story of what she saw after her one eye surgery. It was a slightly chilling tale, but I thoroughly enjoyed listening to her.
Actually, every moment I get to spend listening to my great-grandmother, both of them, is one of my most joyful memories.
Like, the morning after my grandfather’s sixtieth birthday. Having to share a room with my great-grandmother (not the previously mentioned one), I got to talk with her the next morning. She made coffee and I just listened to her talking the time away with me. That is what I call being blessed.
I never know when I can lose those that mean the most to me, and so I am building up these joyful memories. It’s hard to say which one is my absolute favourite, but I do know that I am thankful for each and every one.
One day, when I’m old and gray, I’ll look back and reminisce in nostalgia; if I am blessed to still have a memory at that point in time, though...Ah, well. Let’s be positive.
One day, I’ll look back and remember with a smile and joyful tears.
It’s not often that I find myself in a state of supreme, thrilling happiness. My preferred version of a dopamine or serotonin high is much more ordinary, and it’s one that I don’t always notice I'm in the middle of until the streak of happy chemicals is broken by a wave of epinephrine or a spiral of overanalysis.
Like trying and failing to pick out my favorite book, I can’t pick out a most happy moment from all the ones flitting through my head. Also similar to my experience with books, I don’t often find myself in a certain situation and think to myself, “This is one of the most happy days of my life.” More often than not, to use the book context, I’m enjoying reading a book, and there’s nothing I’d rather be doing in that moment, yet, instead of being the sudden thrill of a starburst, it’s a sort of an ordinary, subtle blissfulness that I sink into and cherish with all the comfort and contentedness of a warm cup of tea.
That’s how most of my happy, joyful memories are. I don’t usually register that those happy feelings were more noteworthy than usual until later on (like right now, for example), when I think back and agree with myself that that was a really happy memory, among all of my everyday happenings.
If this feels a bit confusing, it’s because I’m still figuring it out myself. What truly makes me happy? The overwhelming majority of positive memories that come to mind are not composed of events or experiences, although those types of memories have certainly brought a lot of joy in my life; however, I think a great deal of my happiness is found in something much less concrete than things or places or even people: it’s in my state of mind.
Yes, a mental state is greatly affected by actual things and happenings in my life, but sometimes, it’s a lot deeper than that. It has to do with who I am rather that what I do or things I possess.
All that being said, I do have memories of happy times in my life that bring me joy when I recall them. And when listing my best memories, they will necessarily be comprised of a wide variety of circumstances and settings, both abstract and concrete. Because that’s how life goes. Sometimes happiness is found in the lightning burst of shooting stars and heart-dropping roller coasters, while other times it’s found in the simple pleasures of everyday living and loving.
Here are a few of mine:
~ Standing at the top of the Eiffel Tower with my sister and feeling the breeze on my face as we took in the stunning Parisian landscape and architecture, and then a bit later, watching the sun set behind the city from our vantage point on the Arc de Triomphe. Happiness despite getting lost in the maze-like streets of Paris more times than we could count and so exhausted from walking I thought my legs would turn to liquid right then. And then, of course, exploring the Louvre the next day and mourning the shortness of our visit, but later getting distracted by a boat tour down the Seine and then going on an evening tour of the Notre Dame Cathedral.
~ Talking on the phone with one of my best friends for hours and not even feeling the time slip by, even though I hate talking on the phone but it’s okay because this is not just any old telemarketer I’m talking to.
~ Traveling when I was thirteen to spend a week with friends who’d moved across the country and traversing the length and breadth of Wisconsin, Illinois, and Kentucky on exciting adventures with our two families.
~ Epic sleepovers as a kid with my bestest childhood friend when my whole family would get together with her family and we'd have the most awesome parties with games and swimming and singing and good food.
~ Sitting cross-legged at the top of a grassy hill at my family's old house overlooking green rolling hills dotted with farmhouses, horses, oaks and eucalyptus, puffy white clouds in the sky, and feeling the sun’s rays soak into my bones, and hearing crowing roosters and the rustling of leaves and a distant train whistle, and smelling pungent grasses and the mild, sweet aroma of grazing animals, and sensing that steady gentle voice of divine love and acceptance welling up deep inside my soul.
~ Camping on the California coast with good friends where we spent a week doing fun stff like building epic sand creations on the beach, eating burgers at seaside cafes, going antiquing at cool local shops, hiking among the breathtaking redwoods, searching for interesting rocks and crabs in tidal pools, and singing songs and telling stories and playing games around a crackling campfire.
~ Exploring San Francisco with friends and going to some of our favorite places, then walking down dark streets late at night and goofing around like idiots.
~ Getting lost in the flow and rhythm of writing when the story is at its richest and my characters are at their chattiest, when they are veritably speaking their world into my mind and the colors and details are so vivid I feel like I could soar with the absolute wonder and thrill of the creative flow inside me.