11 Dec serene: Please tell about other happy moments in your life.
My family has a useful gift – or custom, perhaps. No matter how dreadful things may objectively be, we always manage to have fun. As my grandmother said at her mother-in-law’s funeral, “We can turn anything into a picnic.” I’ve debated how wise this is. Yes, being able to snatch happiness in little ways helps you endure suffering in the big ways. OTOH, sticking around for years in a destructive situation is anything but wise.
A few moments of happiness:
The writing of my first published book (April-May 1986). I’d been thinking about it for years, and when I finally sat down to write it, it poured forth as no other book has done. I wrote 300 pages in fifteen days’ working time. It was utter bliss. I look at the book now and see all sorts of issues and problems with it, but nothing can ever erase that ecstasy.
Reading my first Dylan Thomas poems (March 1972). There’s a day or two in early spring when the light reaches critical mass, and I tip over into joy. (This still happens.) One of my responses is to go out and walk in the world. Another is to go to the library. On this particular day, I was in school, so it had to be the library. I checked out the collected poems of Dylan Thomas, and sat down and read them straight through. It was like drinking honey. I read them over again, slowly, cherishing each word and line, but I will always remember the feeling of getting drunk on his words.
Any time I’m baking bread. I started when I was 10, and I still love the process. One of my deep primal needs is to get my hands on dough. Making pasta is similar.
I’m happy just looking: at landscapes, at landforms, at individual trees and rocks, at my people, at architecture. And just smelling some things: lilacs, redwood trees, a fall morning. And listening to music. And tasting delicious food. And most of all, touching, holding the people I love. That’s a joy far beyond words.
I can't really talk about my partners. Words are inadequate. But love and friendship and long talks and time together. All those things.
Back in May wild_irises took me to see the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Not only did I love the paintings, I also loved the day itself: walking through Golden Gate Park on a breezy spring day, spending time with one of my favorite people. She has given me many moments of joy, including the Lynn-safe Indian dinner she and a friend made for my birthday one year.
Museums make me happy with their promise that some things, if they are cherished, can outlast the centuries—that people long dead can still speak to us through their art or craft. (One of the many reasons I love books, too.) That’s one reason I love the Roman glass in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So fragile, yet it endures. I first felt this joy when I was four and my mother took us to a small, local museum. I saw a letter written by Abraham Lincoln -- even then a hero of mine.
I’m happy sitting in the living room with gramina and housepet and the cats and the Christmas tree. Having a stable, safe, loving home is something I cherish.
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