I have to wonder sometimes at the things I grasp for in life. I think of my visions of the future and they all look like a Cover Girl commercial. Perfect lighting and makeup, great hair, smiles that are pearly white, the perfect outfit, fit, successful, out with friends, laughing at brunch, walking down the street and smiling for no reason, getting a cab on the first hail…
(Insert record screeching to a halt)
That’s just crazy. Nobody gets a cab on the first hail.
And nobody has that life, and yet I can’t keep myself from the fantasy. These things glitter in the future like mirages of a life I have yet to live. And I am so good at keeping the fantasy alive. If I lose the baby weight then I’ll be happy, when I get that job I want then I’ll be happy, when we get the place we want to live in, then I’ll be happy. There is trouble with pinning your hopes to fluffy ideas of the future, it’s like a castle made of sand, eventually it stops holding and washes away. And then you are just left there, looking at a wet lump of sand, and feeling, like a wet lump of sand. Reality almost never holds up to the fantasy.
So what the hell is happiness anyway?
If I conjure up the happiest I have ever been, it was definitely the day my daughter was born. I never even knew such happiness existed. Granted, 11 months later, I am looking back on that moment with the mom equivalent of beer goggles, I remember everything in a warm fuzzy light. But even with the nostalgia aside. I was just as happy as I remember, if not happier.
I looked a mess, quite literally a bloody mess. I pretended nothing existed under the blanket covering my lower half as I decided me and my vagina would not be on speaking terms for a while. She was completely fine with that as well.
I did not have the perfect hair, makeup or lighting. I hadn’t brushed my teeth or eaten in over 24 hours and I felt like I got hit by truck. I was the anti- Cover Girl commercial. Instead of easy, breezy and beautiful I was stiff, smelly and unsuitable to be viewed by the general public. But there I was, holding my daughter, kissing her head and telling her how much I loved her. I cried with happiness; and not that little “nose sniffle here and there cry” or “wipe away a single tear” cry, but a big bad boohoo waaaaaaaahhhhhh ugly cry. Snot was running, my face and paper gown soaked with tears and my glasses fogged up. I was making noises that sounded like part heaving and part animal mating call. When my husband tried to communicate with me, I made indecipherable high pitched squeaks that were attempts at talking, but were probably only auditory to canines. But I was so ridiculously happy.
I was ugly cry happy.
I guess that is the irony of being happy. It’s usually everything we don’t reach for. Who looks into their future and thinks of how they want a boohoo ugly cry? Or of just a regular evening with family and friends, laughing and talking and just having a normal night. Who dreams about a quiet morning with warm cup of coffee? Happiness lives in the mundane, the day to day, the everyday ordinary – in the inside jokes between friends, in the quiet evenings at home after dinner, at 6am while looking at how the sunrise’s first rays curves around your newborn’s cheek or in the simple acts of being able to walk, to breathe. Happiness isn’t about being somewhere at some point, but being where you are, fully and completely.
I think this is the aim of mindfulness, it’s really to re-sensitize ourselves to the treasures in front of us, not to wait for a future that never comes, or wax nostalgic on the warm fuzzy light of the past. It’s about stretching out this moment, the only one you got, and the only one you are ever going to get. It’s about staying, with ourselves, our experiences, our life as we know it.
It’s also about Nutella and ice cream, but that’s another post for another day.