I have a refrigerator magnet that carries this observation: “Now and then, it’s good to pause in the pursuit of happiness and just be happy.”
I don’t suppose I need a magnet to remind me to do that, but frankly it makes me happy to have an affirmation at my ready. And it’s funny how on occasion, when my mind is spinning trying to make the inconsequential consequential – or for that matter the consequential inconsequential – little things like refrigerator magnet slogans can provide a necessary speed bump for my racing thoughts.
But it was Saturday morning and Saturday mornings have become a sort of hallowed time in my busy life. Five mornings a week, I need to be at school by 7:20. Saturdays I take my time, set my own schedule. Get out of bed when I wake up, follow my own slow routine and try not to let anything get in my way. So there I was. The water was heating and I opened the cabinet – before I remembered I had used my last teabag Friday or so I thought. And I hadn’t bought more. But I left the box on the cabinet shelf.
Oh praises to the gods smiling down on me. In fact, two little tea bags were left in the box. One cup and a spare. And as I measured the tablespoon of honey to sweeten the first cup of tea, still waiting on the tea kettle to whistle, I spied the magnet and its encouraging words.
Happy. Happy. Happy. That, I decided, is what I will be today.
I’m going to confess something here, without burdening anyone with the details. The truth is, while not Dr. Phil Show worthy, my little family is facing some issues. In the grand scheme of things, they’re not problems any worse than most people’s. Life altering? Isn’t everything? Life ending? Not really. At least not right now.
But it is safe to say, Humpty Dumpty has fallen off the wall and the king’s horses and men are being summoned.
Life is a journey. Not a destination. Don’t have that one on my refrigerator, but it’s certainly worthy. And certainly true. Right now the journey needs to be taken one step at a time. Patience is required.
In the meantime, I shall be glad for those little things that make me happy. I thought I might count one or two. In no particular order, because in fact this column is due, now, and not finished.
So, yes, count the tea bags and honey, and blue flowered cup just the right size and weight for sitting, sipping and savoring a cup of tea while the wind howled round the corner of my apartment building outside. And sitting there, I got a text from my son in Corpus Christi announcing his daughter’s present and card from me had arrived on Friday – in time for the celebration of her sixth birthday on Saturday.
I am happy I work in a happy place, a safe place, really, because in spite of what’s going on, I know when I get there every morning, the “Good morning” greetings are genuine. The children’s hugs sincere. Their laughter infuses happiness. Even their sadness anchors me in the knowledge that life is complicated, and confusing, often confounding, but it is good. And totally worth the effort.
It makes me inexplicably happy to come home on Friday afternoon exhausted. Exhausted because I’ve used every ounce of energy I have working hard. Yes, the other Pre-K class’s teacher is out on medical leave, and the sub didn’t show, but we took in the extra children and they learned, and they made us crazy, but we got through and laughed at the trials when the day was done.
I am so, so happy to have a friend (more than one, actually) who calls to commiserate with me that it’s been a challenging week and suggests – as per usual – we talk it out over dinner. We splurge and both order steaks. And I don’t eat all of mine, so there’s enough for lunch the next day.
I think I am happiest when I consider the joy of the little things and I’ve been blessed by thousands of those “little things.” That there is progress is spite of setbacks. That somehow, I learned a long time ago the value of keeping on; the empowering wisdom of that other refrigerator magnet worthy Zen philosophy: “Fall down seven times, get up eight.”
Editor’s note: Candace Cooksey Fulton, formerly of Brownwood, is a freelance writer now living in San Angelo. She writes weekly columns for the Brownwood Bulletin and the San Angelo Standard-Times, each unique to the particular paper. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.