On my refrigerator, I’ve posted a quote I came across from somewhere – I can’t remember now. I just know when I read it, I agreed with it totally and I didn’t want to forget the message.
So I wrote the quote on a scrap of pretty paper and glued it over some freebie advertising magnet I happened to have, and there it stays on the side of my fridge.
“Now and then, it’s good to pause in the pursuit of happiness and just be happy.”
I didn’t know, but searched for the quote’s originator just so I wouldn’t be accused of passing on something I shouldn’t be passing on without giving credit. According to www.brainyquote.com, Guillaume Apollinaire is the guy who said that.
Apollinaire, I learned from Wikipedia, was a French poet, playwright, short story writer, novelist and art critic of Polish descent, who was wounded in World War I and died in 1918 at the age of 38 in the Spanish flu pandemic. That’s more credit than I’m ethically required to give, but those facts seemed to add weight to the simple quote, so I’m passing them on.
This my friends, has been a great summer for pauses and suddenly surprising realizations of happiness. You know what I mean? I’m not sure I can explain, but I’ve found happiness in ways and places I would have never thought to look in an actual pursuit. And technically I think, we’re all in pursuit, even if it gets us in trouble. I’m mindful of another quote I only vaguely remember – that happiness is sometimes like catching a butterfly. In a chase, the butterfly may fly out of reach, but sometimes, if you sit very still, the butterfly will choose to light on your shoulder, and having it choose to light of its own free will is ever so much nicer that capturing one in a net or your hand, possibly injuring it and totally interrupting its natural purpose.
This is one of several things that have happened. I spent a week in Corpus Christi the end of June, being a babysitter of sorts for my 5-year-old granddaughter. Sweet Kylah Marie is smart and cute and delightful. It was the first time in her life to be away from her mother for anywhere near that long, and all of the loving adults in her life were very worried it would be too long. But we managed quite well with that basic formula of one day at a time.
On day 4 of my stay, the plan was to go to the aquatic splash pad, 20 miles away. I checked the Internet and figured it would be better to go later, which would be fine since the center was open until 6:30. But we got there at 5, and found that the center had closed that afternoon for a private party.
What do you do with an excited 5-year-old in swimsuit and floaties and a grandma who’s made it her mission not to disappoint the 5-year-old? Well, my son’s girlfriend, our tour guide, suggested the nearby beach, which we weren’t too keen on, except it was close and it had water and sand. Actually, those were the things we weren’t that enthused about. Sand in our suits and saltwater in our eyes hadn’t made our list of happy things.
But we forged ahead. The nearby beach wasn’t the best in the area. The sand is course. There aren’t public facilities like bathrooms or showers to rinse off the saltwater and sand. Nevertheless, we were on a mission.
We weren’t deterred when the wind insisted on blowing away our folding chairs if we weren’t sitting in them. And we acted like we didn’t mind that the waves seemed extra high and aggressive and noisy. Finally we gave up on the chairs and sat in the sand, barely within reach of the most persistent waves. The wind carried a lot of our words away, but we still talked. Talked of things great and small; of sun and wind and moon and stars; how we couldn’t find whole shells, but just the broken bits are pretty, and we should like them too; about starting to kindergarten, and she shouldn’t be afraid, but it’s OK if she is a little nervous. Everybody is. Even Grandmas.
I told Kylah how happy I was to be there with her. And she said, “Me too. We’re here.”
It was a great – and happy – pause.
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.