What is happiness?

by | September 28, 2012 10:25 am



   In the grown-up world of forty-hour work weeks, bumper to bumper traffic, bills, appointments and obligations, happiness seems hard to find. One question keeps popping up in my mind: what is happiness?

   I began to think about it. Over the course of my life, have I been happy? Here I am, as an adult, doubting myself. Have I missed the elusive boat of happiness? In my storehouse of memories, do the happy times outweigh the sad?

   My devoted parents did all they could, but found it difficult to provide for my four sisters and me. Times were hard and wages were low. But we were surrounded with unconditional love, and lots of it. My parents believed in prayer and the church was a big part of our lives.

   We lived in the country and developed a deep appreciation for nature. On cold winter nights, the family sat by a warm, crackling fireplace and listened to raindrops dancing on the tin rooftop. Daddy often gave us an orange and he told us stories about his youth. He made us laugh when he told us about one particular Christmas Eve night.

   He was about five years old and his brothers and sisters had each placed a shoe box under the tree for Santa to fill. Back then, all you could expect was a small rubber ball, a few pieces of fruit, candy and a handful of mixed nuts.

   Dad began to hear an unusual noise under the Christmas tree. The family was instructed to stay in bed until Christmas morning. His parents were very strict. He said he couldn’t wait for Christmas morning to come. He was so afraid that a field mouse had gotten into his shoe box and was destroying its contents.

   Sometimes Mom would lead us like a mother hen to a frosty window. We would look out on a world filled with stars and the glow of a full moon. The stars seemed to twinkle brighter on nights like these. We were so far back in the country that the rest of the world didn’t seem to exist. The call of a lone whipporwill and the music of the wind gave us a sense of peace and security.

   Now, as I hurry to get home after a busy day, I’m not that little boy anymore. But I realize that my trip to happiness has always been paved with the beauty and love of nature. As a child, and now, as an adult, my happiness depends on the strong bond I have forged with nature.

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