Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Finding and Making Happiness


Doing things that have no right to be any fun at all.

I've spent today doing things that ought to be chores and each has failed to be onerous. Odd happenings here on the 27th of December.

Woke early and felt good enough to get out of bed so I did just that, came downstairs and started loading old CDs into the computer so that I can get rid of the last two shelves of CDs in our den. Each one seemed to inspire in me the desire to hear a different song. Even now, hours later, I'm listening to a Bruce Hornsby disc I haven't heard in ages.

My wife was headed out to go house hunting with my mother, so it was up to me to herd the children to Wegman's for the week's shopping. The two girls were in pretty bad moods as we were getting ready to go, but then road quietly to the store and, once there, took on the role of helping me get things done. When I sent them for broccoli, they got broccoli. When they were sent for scallions, they got scallions. And when they were sent for cherry tomatoes, they brought back my friend Chris who was picking up a few things of his own.

He and I talked for a bit as I sent the girls hither and yon for produce. There was no rush to get anything done and we caught up about Nerf football, my parents' house hunting, and the possibility of he and I getting together the next day. Then we went on our way.

It took an hour or so and cost nearly $200, but the trip was successful and easy. It was, for lack of a better word, a joy.

After unpacking the groceries I set about making vegetable stock. I peeled a five-pound bag of carrots, chopped off their tops and bottoms and piled it into a stock pot. I diced half a dozen onions and threw them in. I trimmed a head of celery and threw the trimmings in. I went through the spice cupboard and the stock made the kitchen and house smell like a warm den, a burrow on a rainy day.

And then a little while ago, feeling a bit bored, I took the dog out in the rain for a walk and romp. We went down to the park where I let her off the leash in the empty, rain-sodden fields and she took off, circling back to me and having the kind of time that only a dog can have.

Or maybe I can have it too because I walked in that cold rain and couldn't help but smile at her antics, at how good it felt to be moving, at how good I felt in every way. It's a matter of becoming, for the moment, a dog.

Yesterday I wrote about how I was remembering mistakes and disasters of my own making, so it seems only right to think today of successes I create. I still have a sprained foot and running is out of the question for at least another day, but the walk was good and the dog is much better as a walking companion than as a running partner. My children are mostly happy (though listening to them in the other room right now, I'm wondering who will draw blood first). My wife just came in wanting to tell me something but then asked, "are you writing your 750 words?" to which I nodded. She then went away until I can finish. And the dog is standing beside me waiting for me to give her another bite of cheddar. (It ain't happening, dog.)

Each of these things are situations I have created, things I have set about to make work, and they are good. My relationship with Stephanie (my wife) is a beautiful thing. It takes work, it's not easy for either of us, but we are what we need and want in this world. My kids are hysterical and sweet, smart and filled with energy. They make me smile more than I thought anything could. And this dog, still begging for cheddar or another walk in the rain, is the dog I've wanted since I had to put my childhood dog to sleep.

Life begins every morning but doesn't end each night. That is a marvel. There is more and more to come and yet every morning we get a do-over. Could anything be better than that? I don't think so. It gives me courage to go on, fills me with desire to know what's next, and drives me to write on.