So I signed up for this awesome writing challenge, and totally got behind yesterday, as usual when hubby’s home and we fill our day with billions of things before the weekend is over. Anyway, here’s the first post, and lucky you! You’ll be getting another one in just a bit 🙂
Write Tribe Festival of Words #6, Day One: Write about a treasure you have
Treasure: noun, a very valuable object.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love to shop. Online, in-store, catalogue, outlets, malls, boutiques, you name it. If there’s an establishment that sells items, I’m there. And – like most people pre-marriage and pre-kids – I’ve spent an (un)fair share of my time shopping til I drop.
Those who know me also know that I love to travel. Making up my mind to spend the weekend in Istanbul or Amsterdam on a Thursday used to be normal for me. The places I’ve been able to see, the adventures I’ve had, the people I’ve met are all memories that will last a lifetime.
Knowing these two things, many people would guess that the treasure I would write about would be a killer purse, or my favorite shoes, or the passport that’s gotten me into so many countries, While I treasure all of those things, there is something far more valuable to me than anything I could ever own. It’s something I lived a long time without, something I didn’t think existed for many people, and something I had resigned myself to not having, yet still chased relentlessly.
That something is happiness. I know, I know, how cliche. But, it cliches did become so for a reason, and that reason is usually because they stand as true.
For many years, I believed happiness to be something that was just around the corner, waiting, watching, lurking, dancing around with the word IF. If I just did something that made my dad proud, if I just turned in an awesome assignment that impressed my teacher, if I just made friends with the popular group in school, if I just played it cool and made it seem like I didn’t care too much, if I could just wait a little bit longer so the situation could get better, then I would be happy. I thought it took work, sacrifice, patience, willpower. And I thought that if I could just distract myself from the reality of now – like with shopping and traveling – I would be able to ride the wave of despair until I arrived at the shore of happiness.
Except, the shore never came. I was neck-deep in the water, drowning, looking for a way out, any tiny sliver of land that didn’t seem to exist.
I wasn’t wrong about what it took to achieve happiness, I just wasn’t applying those tools in the right context. I didn’t like my life, I didn’t like the circumstances, and I didn’t want to wait to anymore. I decided that to blow things up by choice would be better than to allow life to pass me by and be unhappy with the outcome. At least if I was making any decision – even the wrong ones – I would have the opportunity to be unhappy by choice, my choice. And so I did. And the weirdest thing happened. The unintended consequence of shaking up my world was that I became happy.
Once I couldn’t blame anyone and anything else for my situation, I had to work that much harder to live with my choices. I chose to wake up in a foreign country, teach, travel, meet new people, and make decisions that I had to live with. Once the reality was my own, something that I had created, I couldn’t escape it anymore, but I didn’t want to either.
As humans we all fall into the trap of letting be what already is; we are naturally disinclined to change, and appreciate the status quo, even when it doesn’t serve us, because it’s comfortable, and who likes to be uncomfortable? Comfort is safe and warm, and can wrap you up in its steadiness, but comfort doesn’t necessary equal happy, and if you’re not making moves to make sure that you’re living a happy life, then what are you doing? We believe ourselves to be stuck in situations because of obligations – financial, familial, career – but often times, if we really sit with ourselves and strip away the excuses, there’s no reason for us to continue down a path that makes us miserable. If you value money, accolades, material things, expensive trips, you will always be stuck in a cycle trying to maintain those things, sometimes even at the expense of your personal relationships, and almost always at the expense of your happiness.
For now happiness is something that I feel every day, even if only in glimpses. In my son’s smile, in the way the cat curls up into my lap and purrs, in my 10th cup of coffee (kiddingggggg) (kind of), in the way my husband relaxes when he walks through the door at night. And, while I don’t carry all the details in my mind of those long days without it, I will always remember what it felt like to yearn for something that seemed to be so abundant in the world, yet so absent in my life. So, with that, I treasure each moment of happiness I feel, no matter how small, and I seek to make choices that lead me down the path of finding more each day.
Do something today that will make happy even tomorrow, something that your future self will be proud of.