the molecular structure of happiness

“Yesterday is but a dream, tomorrow but a vision.  But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every yesterday a vision of hope.  Look well, therefore, to this day.”  Indian Proverb

That was the quote I wanted to have next to my senior picture in my high school yearbook back in 1969.  They screwed it up and only put the first line in, they forgot the happiness part, which was the most important  part of it to me.  I have tried to live that quote since I first read it.  Although I have become more interested in the happiness available in this moment rather than yesterday’s  dream of happiness or tomorrows vision of hope.  Yeah, I hope tomorrow will be a good one, but more, my hope is to meet whatever comes with as much presence and compassion as I can.

As I wrote that quote and my aspirations as a young adult carried so far into my older adult life the inner voice I hear is.  “What an f-ing goodie, goodie. Show off.  Friggin’ Pollyanna.”  When actually it comes from a very selfish place.  I wanted happiness, I still want happiness.  I wanted to find true happiness.  I wanted to inhabit the molecular structure of happiness.  I saw early on that more, bigger, better didn’t really do it, and if it did,  it was not lasting.  I decided to travel deeper into the woods of simpler, less, more subtle.  Not less in the quantitative sense, but less in  the sense of beyond the quantitative. Happy with, happy without, happy regardless.

A caterpillar  could try to be a butterfly.  She could strap on wings.  Bigger wings, ever more beautiful wings, a closet full of wings.  Or she could enter that cocoon that ultimately dissolves her identity as a caterpillar.   She could surrender to a process that  rearranges ones’ molecular structure completely.

Caterpillars don’t have a choice about going through this process, we as human beings do.


Just another day….. or not

The first time I got up this morning I responded to my dog’s bark to go outside and pee. The cat wanted to be fed too, but I didn’t want it to get used to being fed at 7am because I don’t always get up that early. I went back to bed. My nights have been later now that my son is working late and we have to coordinate rides. I really need and love my sleep so I try and let myself sleep as much as I need to. I am telling myself that so I don’t feel indulgent getting up finally at 9:30am. Took my morning thyroid medication. I keep it on my dresser and have a little silver metal tea pot and a blue melmac camp cup to put the water in that I set on the old fashion desk chair next to my bed. Your are supposed to take it a half hour before eating, so I try to take it when I first wake and inevitable go back to sleep.  I works about 75% of the time, other times I forget and just down it with my coffee.  I never found out if a cup of coffee with cream and sugar is considered food.  I always make extra coffee, so I only end up making it every other day. I made a pot yesterday, so into the cup and into the microwave it went. The sun was already up and beating down with the intensity of a sun lamp on the vegetable garden, only the beans, carrots, onions, celery, and most of the tomatoes were in the shade still. I had to get it watered, no putting it off, or I would find wilted and sad plants later. As I move through the garden and water, I can see I planted the three sisters pattern too close because soon you won’t be able to see the ground. They are already running into each other,the Zuchinni bumping into the corn here, the yellow squash enveloping the marigolds over there. These were in the full sun and I had to water them under their leaves and stalks. Corn with peas and beans winding up them, squash spreading out inbetween. I have to harvest some lettuce and chard soon. I had to move my darling artichoke because it is getting fried.  I love my artichoke.
After watering the garden, I packed up and mailed off another items I sold on Amazon, then threw up a few books that had caught my eye that I am done with. One is on Bankruptcy from Nolo Press. Something I seriously considered, if only to get back at my credit card companies, but decided against. I could be creative enough to get by without doing it, but boy was it tempting if only to say ‘fuck you’ to the robber barrons of our current age.  In this economy is might be a sought after book. I love my little book business even though I make under $300 a year at it so far. I love packing the items up, decorating each book marker I include with stamps and sparkles, walking the block to the post office, stapling the receipt to a copy of the packing slip and piling it neatly in the folder I keep them in.
It is almost 1pm and I am containing myself from waking up my son. The urge to be co-dependent is ever present and he usually wakes up minutes after I think he should be up. I keep finding excuses to wake him or to inadventently wake him.  I should call my friend about a ride home from work tomorrow and the phone is in his room.  I should go for a walk and tell him I am going out.  I will walk to the post office again because the mail had not been put in the boxes yet when I went up to mail the Amazon package and then see if he is up by the time I get back.

I am amazed it works every time. Sure enough, by the time I got back a few mintues later he was up and ready to jump in the shower.  He was none the wiser of my dust storm of worry kicked up by our different timing, but diverted by a walk to the post office.  Visions of him losing his job, my worst fear, vanished as soon as I walked in the door and heard the sound of his voice.  Mother worry is like a chronic condition,no matter how much I know the vast majority of it is unwarrented, it keeps popping up or popping out, like gas. He mostly has it pretty together.  His timing is not mine, but it doesn’t have to be as long as it works for him.  Growing up in a home with alcoholics shaped me to be constantly vigilant.  The compulsion to act on it lessens with time, but the urge still arises.  I am looking for the past to repeat itself and it is a challenge to get my head out of the ass of my past and see what it actually going on in front of me.  Not what I fear, or hope, but what is.
I am doing something to further my writing goals and dreams.  I am writing on my Blog, graduating from my personal journal.  Looking at all those fears that I will have nothing important or interesting to say or I will not say it in an interesting or compelling way.  I will come off pretentious or contrived or just plain lame.  I won’t be funny and I should be funny!  The list goes on and on.  I am using the extra time I have away from home to go to the library and write.  I dropped Zack off at work, on time.  Instead of going into Cost Plus to wander around looking at things I don’t need, or to the Goodwill on the pretense of looking for a cheap set of gardening tools, or Home Depot for the same reason, I drove myself here.  I do miss hanging out at home with this new schedule but looking for the opportunity in it.  At home it is too easy to get distracted.  I am very creative at that and it is time to channel that creativity into something new.

Problems of success

Recently someone used the phrase ‘problems of success’ in describing some problems they were having.  They said it was a step up to have problems of success rather than the other kind.  When my son got a job and the hours he was working did not mesh with my working hours and we only had one car, I was grateful that instead of the problem of him not having a job, we had a ‘problem of success’ on our hands.  It presented us with an opportunity for creative problem solving.  I had been wanting to take more public transportation, but it is easy to keep doing what is familiar until a situation forces you to change.  With gas prices it was less expensive to take public transportation, it was more sustainable, and it was more adventuresome.  It was something my son had been doing while going to school and working part-time  when there was a conflict with the car. His new job is close to full time and it turns out he goes to work earlier than I need to be at work, and gets off quite late.  He works from 3pm till almost midnight.  The bus either gets him there at 9:30 am or after 4 pm.  Not workable.  No bus gets him home that late either and hitch-hiking that late is not very reliable. Here was the situation that gave me the opportunity to make a change.  It reminded me of when I was a young adult living in San Francisco in the 70’s, arranging my life around bus schedules and figuring out things to do when I had extra time at one end or the other of those trips.

Sometimes my son got me to work early so I went downtown and strolled around, then walked the 15-20 minutes back to work.  It got me that exercise I kept thinking about and not doing.  I started sleeping better.  When I had to be at work later at night for an overnight shift  and the last bus out of the small town I live in got me there 4 hours early, I started going to the downtown theater and treating myself to a movie.  The first time I did this I ran into an old acquaintance who ended up at the movies on her own that night too.  We sat together and enjoyed the movie Super 8 while she shared her M & M’s with me.  I walked to work after enjoying the summer night air and starry Maxfield Parish blue sky.  Another time I invited a friend last-minute to go see Midnight in Paris and she dropped me off at work after.  It was sold out so we ended up sitting in the isle rather that ruin our necks in the front row.

I felt really adventurous when I had to transfer  3 times to get to work at my other job on the other side of San Rafael.  It ended up sounding much more complicated that it actually was and I was proud of myself.  Zack was off really late that night, so I took a bus back into San Rafael at 9 pm and went to a late movie at the downtown Avant Garde movie house.  The movie ended at 11:40 pm and he got there right about the time the movie got out.  I saw a foreign film I might have never seen.  It was a film out of Holland entitled Bride Flight. It reminded me of the kind of things I did when I was a young adult and fancy free.  Stayed up ridiculous hours and slept in the next day.  Of course, as luck would have it, I have a job that is late afternoon evening, so I could manage it.

As I approach 60 this year I am reminded of the character, Baron Munchausen from the film of the same name that came out in 1988 (I think).  At the beginning of the movie the Baron is old and depressed.  He claims the antidote for the decline of age is adventure.  Throughout the movie the more adventures he has, the younger and more vital he becomes.  I do believe that having adventures does help one stay young at heart and vital.   (I am not sure the Baron would agree with me but I think naps are quite important too.)  I embrace this new problem of success as an opportunity for adventure to keep me vital and flexible.