Happiness is not for the faint of heart. As you are aware, it’s fleeting and elusive. When I was in Africa, I was pretty sure that happiness actually was located in Asia. Once there, I longed for Africa again. When I used to read lots and lots of books as a young woman, I figured writing them must be the key to great joy. Now that I write them, I miss reading for pleasure.
I take a pill that helps me be less sad. And that sort of helps. But then I see someone else’s sadness or suffering and I take it on, too. I stopped going to church back in Burlington because someone was always dying, or sick, or sad and being a part of that actually made me way too unhappy. I see sad people the way that film character saw dead people. They seem to see me too and gravitate.
I keep trying to get out in front of the sadness and into a happier place. Oh, I can see it far off in the distance! It’s in Sri Lanka for Thanksgiving. And in Jaipur for the literary festival in January. It’s in Vermont for Christmas, for sure. Oh, but then I’ll be sad if I can’t see my brother or my sister or my mom or my Nora who don’t live in Vermont. Oh why go back at all? I can just miss everyone equally from here. Ugh.
This is not to say that I’m drowning in despair. I am a high-functioning burrito of sadness. I smile a lot. I have fun. I exercise. I often laugh like a deranged hyena. I also get a big kick out of making other people happy. Indeed, that’s probably when I am the happiest. I love hugging. I love tiny birds, and I tell them so.
Yesterday, I got a glimpse of pure bliss. David and I were on our way home from getting a Halloween costume at the mall. And nope it wasn’t David who was blissed out on the chance to be a ninja.
It was the cab driver.
I’d asked him if he was getting any time off to enjoy the weekend. He couldn’t contain his enthusiasm in his exceptional English.
“Yes! And I’m going to get some profile pictures taken!”
Hmm. I’ve never been excited about getting a portrait. Each to their own, right?
He continued, “for Facebook!”
Oh, he’s going to change his profile picture on Facebook this weekend. Okay, that should bring 3-4 seconds of happiness. I’ve been there.
But wait, there’s more.
Apparently, he has been eyeing two motorcycles somewhere. Mr. Cab Driver tells me that he is going to wear a muscle t-shirt and go stand by the Suzuki — which he says is of the Ninja style — and the Harley Davidson. He will ask someone to take his picture while he pretends to ride them. Then he’s going to put the pictures on Facebook for his friends back in Pakistan. Mr. Cab Driver is so animated while he’s describing this plan that I am getting excited too. His happiness is the very definition of infectious. He tells me that when his friends see the pictures back home, they will all start calling him.
Impassioned, Mr. Cab Driver picked up his cell phone and called someone. I could tell that he was telling whoever it is of his incredible weekend plans. He repeated one phrase in English, several times. No Love. No Pressure. I can’t figure out what he meant. But it doesn’t matter.
He’s happy to his toenails. He has an idea, that he can see to fruition. It will be fun in the pursuit; it will be fun in the process. And the outcome will be the most fun of all. The joy will spread out over days. Maybe in a few years, a pal will remind of the pictures and the joy will bubble up again.
At no point has Mr. Cab Driver said that he would be happier or happiest if he could OWN one of those machines. Honestly, I have no idea how he could reach any higher plane of bliss than the one he’s aiming toward. He’s like Bob Ross painting a happy little tree.
Or maybe he is the tree finally getting to be painted.