The Red Sox won the World Series last night in Fenway. I stayed up for the whole game, an hour past my bedtime, but when the Sox rushed the field to celebrate I was happy I'd waited up. I was happy they had won though for the last inning and a half I had been trying to figure out a good reason why I cared. These are wealthy guys I've never met. I have no connection to them other than an electrical signal stretching from the back of my television to a broadcast truck outside Fenway. I couldn't make sense of being happy for them, but when they piled on top of one another, happiness didn't have to make sense.
Earlier, my friend and I saw and heard Billy Collins speak. I've seen Collins before and he has had better nights. At times he seemed unprepared and at a loss. I had also heard many of the poems before. Still, I laughed again at familiar funny lines, marveled at some of his turns of phrase, and fell deep into the idea that humor is the elevated form that comes after tragedy. I felt good being there.
Collins was celebrating his own World Series win having just learned that his recent book is number fifteen on The New York Times bestseller list. I was happy again for a man whose only connections to me are that I read his poetry, have heard him speak, and once shared a bar with him. I didn't even talk to him that night in the bar, but his bestseller list position is a lovely thing and I felt how pleased and proud he was. I was pleased and proud too no matter if it made any sense to be.
Now, this morning, illogically I'm happy to be awake and typing. I feel tired, have a touch of headache, my shoulders are tight, and I'm both a little too warm and too cold. I don't exactly feel good, yet I do. It doesn't make sense but I'm happy right now.
Sting says, "the search for perfection is all very well, but to look for heaven is to live here in hell." It's the same searching for reason in happiness. Probing every moment for why and how misses the moment and the feeling.
Yesterday, after Billy Collins but before the bottom of the ninth, I learned that a friend had defended her dissertation and is now a Ph.D. This is reason to celebrate but it is also seems reason enough for envy and disappointment in myself. Another friend sent invitations to a show of his art. He's making the move from one life to another, following a dream. I usually get deep into wondering how the hell they do these things and what I should be doing to be more like them.
The trick is to wonder only enough to feel the glow of happiness and go with it. Then it's time to stop wondering and simply be happy. Time to send congratulations to my friend the doctor and accept the invitation to the art show. Time to smile that they are following their dreams, that the Sox won, and that Billy Collins is number fifteen. Time to enjoy getting up in the morning still happy for friends and strangers alike, still dreaming and trying not to wonder too deeply why it feels so good to write on.