"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: being happy

a pair of ‘mums’ . . .

a pair of 'mums' in our kitchen . . .

a pair of ‘mums’ in our kitchen . . .

Finally, we’re getting a few days of rain this week. After a summer of dry, hot weather, it’s a real shift to grey days with intermittent rain.

I like it.

It makes me think about what is truly meaningful in one’s life . . . And it’s pretty simple it seems:

A home that is a haven from the vagaries of the external world.

Meals that are easy to prepare and enjoyable to share with someone you love every night for dinner.

Not watching the news on television when the harpiness of it all gets to be too much.

Not chasing after what’s unavailable or can’t be changed – not in the past and not in the present either.

Being content with who we are and what we have – and being thankful for it all.

A couple of chrysanthemums from my favorite florist that cost me $2 a stem.




being happy . . .

May-July 2007 351_2We’ve had a long week so after G. was out all day today tending pianos, we decided to go out for a quick dinner at a local Chinese restaurant.

One of the reasons we like going to this place is a waiter named Sam, who has been there for the twenty years that I’ve lived in this town. We knew him from way back then and the three of us were happy to see each other again after such a long time away. Tonight, sure enough, I waved to Sam, returning his cheery salute. When asked, he assured me that the Shanghai twice-fried noodles were “thin” and not “thick.” We enjoyed our soup (wonton and hot and sour) and then Sam brought out a large plate of crispy pan fried noodles with fresh chicken, broccoli, snow peas and straw mushrooms.

As we ate our meal, we discussed things that were on our minds and our schedules for next week. When it was time to ask for the check, we both wanted to ask Sam what accounted for his positive attitude and why he was always so happy. We knew that he had a grown son who lived in California and had a good job working in computers; and that Sam also had some family, a sister, who lived in town that he saw on occasion. Other than that, he seemed to spend nearly all his time working in the restaurant, folding crab rangoon and wontons during slow times at lunch and serving customers.

His first response to why he was happy was that he “didn’t have any problems.” Then, when we pressed him further, he said that he didn’t think too much about things or about the future. And then, he said, “and don’t pressure yourself too much.” On his days off, his favorite thing to do is to cook for himself. When I asked him which dish he liked best to cook for himself, he immediately said, “steamed fish,” bought live and steamed with ginger, scallions, a little wine–then with some hot oil spooned over the fish. Sounded good to me. In fact, his simple outlook on life sounded very good to me too. Isn’t that what all the Zen priests say anyhow: live in the moment and don’t take yourself so seriously?

So, this bit of wisdom appeared at the dinner table tonight. Together with the huge rainbow that arched over our house yesterday morning, we should be all set. Just stop thinking about things so much ~ for me, though, that’s easier said than done!

happy days are here again . . .

G. and me when we first met

G. and me when we first met

You know sometimes when life seems to stop along the pathway and you can see how beautiful it is where you have been travelling? That is the effect that watching my birthday DVD has had on me. My dear niece, Lizzy, wrote to me and said that she found herself smiling so much at the images that her cheeks hurt, but that “it was a good kind of pain.”

Of course a birthday celebration movie doesn’t contain all the sad and bad parts of one’s life in it. Who wants to watch images of all the things that hurt or were disappointing despite your best efforts? Who wants to rake through all the times you fell on your sword in the name of doing the right thing, or maybe doing the wrong thing because you didn’t know any better?

Someone I didn’t know very well said today that the movie seemed “idyllic” as though nobody’s life could or should look that good. It was a slightly cynical, somewhat sardonic way to describe it and it took me aback a little. I thought about it afterwards and decided that the many images of nature, food, flowers, the ocean, Christmas are at the center of my consciousness and what my life is really about, not merely decorations or extras: they are intrinsic and intentional to these moments that have made up my days for me and my family.

Someone else long ago had commented, also a little sardonically, that my home was like a “still life” and that there were many of them all around. While I might contend instead is that it’s a kind of messy still life as I pick up and move things around, trying to find a place for everything. What this illustrates to me also, is that I want to live the idyl every day that I have left. I’d also like to look a little trimmer as I have in earlier photos, keep growing my hair long and stay healthy.

That doesn’t mean that the areas of my life that have been disappointing are swept under the rug. They aren’t and God knows I have belabored most of them to death, second guessing myself, wondering if I could or should have done something different that would have resulted in a more positive outcome. I have sometimes reached out against my better judgment and thought of ways to gain closure for unresolved loose ends. I am satisfied that I have indeed beaten it to death, one way or another. And that those hurts are behind me, even better, they’re just not in the frame of my life anymore.

I hope that’s okay with the people who want me to know that my life is not an idyl but I’m afraid they might be disappointed that my life does happen to look a lot like the DVD. . . pretty much, I’d like to say.

Postscript: I was reading about a woman in South Hadley who was dying of pancreatic cancer and after a number of unsuccessful marriages, found “the one.” Her advice: “Don’t yell at each other unless the house is burning down!” She lived for six years after her first diagnosis and offered herself up to nursing students to visit and ask any questions they might have liked. Here’s a link to that article: