The Pursuit of Happiness

IMG_6299At Christmas I received a book called “52 Lists for Happiness” from my daughter, Kristen, to use in my morning meditations.  It has 52 weekly list-making prompts, and I found this one very interesting:  “List the ways you think someone you love would describe you.”  I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t make myself write-out-loud what I thought someone would say about me. So I changed it up and thought of 3 people I loved that I saw yesterday and wrote down some words that I would use to describe them.

Tod Smith:  Strong, lighthearted, athletic, fun, observant, witty, generous, helpful.

Joyce Cohen:  Kindhearted, creative, resilient, gentle, wise, other-centered, artistic.

Mom/Dad (Yes, the 2 have become one!):  Independent, nurturing, playful, responsible, loving, faithful, gentle.

It was easy to name people who loved me, which was a good exercise in gratitude.  The question of “Who do they say that I am?” still remains.  I went on a search for Jane Kenyon’s poem “Happiness” because my mind works that way.  Tod calls it “drifting.”


Jane Kenyon, 19471995

There’s just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.

And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.

No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.

It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basketmaker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.
       It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.


2 thoughts on “The Pursuit of Happiness

  1. That list prompt worked well, just not in the way you expected. I think there is something extremely valuable to listing the best qualities of those you care about, and even sometimes those you do not. Listing out the qualities of someone I do not care for actually got me through a couple of years of a bad work situation. Trying my best to put a positive spin on a person really did help in that particular case. And other times, it’s even changed my entire opinion of a person, which is really a special thing.

    Some words I’d use to describe you: Kind, positive, active, persistent, encouraging, gentle, thoughtful, deep and also a little bit glamorous. (You never look anything other than beautiful, and I mostly see you riding bike!)

    Thank you for joining the blogging world, it’s a wonderful addition to my days.

    Liked by 1 person

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