Aug 30, 2015

The elusive happiness

I have become, probably due to my hardships, a master of appreciating the little things in life. The after dinner cup of tea. A moment in the sun. An Arnold Palmer under my apple tree. The spotlights in my garden. A walk to my next door neighbor. The one creamy ice cream in summer downtown Umeå. Favorite TV series for the evening. A choir rehearsal. Breakfast at my front porch. A new bright colored shower sponge. Dinner at the foot of my pine tree. The little things.

Then there is my list for the big things. If only this happened I feel like I would get so much strength I could walk to the moon and back and be happy for the rest of my life! In my case that list is battles I am fighting and they are mostly practical matters concerning my house or the care I need. There should be a list for dreams too, but for me those have become utopias hidden so deep down somewhere I’m not sure i could even find it.

My place here at the end of the road is a 100 year old homestead built by my grandfather. It needs a lot of attention and has come to a point where that attention involves quite some money. The kind of money you can’t pick out of your pocket. The pump for the geothermal system has been over due for some years now and the winters a constant fear of it to finally break down. The baker’s cottage south wall panel needs to be replaced. The front of the woodshed/coach house is tilting down and needs to be lifted. And so on. Etc. It’s not “I won’t a jacuzzi!” but severe maintenance needs, and if I don’t take care of this now I need to sell my precious home to someone who has the resources for it. That would break my heart.

Parallel to handling the water damage under my kitchen floor during the winter I was working on taking a second loan on my house.  Well, it’s not a second, more of a third or something like that, and the only way I could solve my maintenance problems. The chances though were pretty much zero since my income is not one that pleases a bank. I started the process in January. “If only this happens I feel like I would get so much strength I could walk to the moon and back and be happy for the rest of my life!”

And it actually happened. I signed the papers in May. The event was fogged by some other stuff though and I wasn’t in a place where I could celebrate and dance around (of course not!) and go all crazy about it. But yes, I now have the means for my most urgent priorities.

The other big thing on my list and a fight partially won was the battle against the city for my most basic needs from my pain and physically restrained condition. This is really big, and for now I don’t need to worry about not getting the assistance needed for my daily survival.

So, am I happy? Of course I am! In both cases a hundred tons lifted from my shoulders. But the funny thing is, where do the happiness go?

This wasn’t about the ego happiness of a new car. This was the happiness of having a chance for survival. A profound safety-creating happiness. But where does the happiness go? Why do I not feel it in my bones? Why isn’t it a constant presence? Why do I not wake up every morning knowing my life is so much different in that sense than in January? Why do I wake up scanning my mind and thoughts for dangers, finding them quickly enough? Why am I a lonely antelope on the savanna?

Well, I guess, because I am. And I don’t think I am alone in this sense. We are programmed scanning for dangers, that’s how we have been surviving. Being on guard, on stand by. That’s self-preservation.

Happiness is a volatile feeling. Fleeting. Fugitive. Cursorial. A sudden sun beam. A hasty love. A delicious dessert. A glittering glimpse. Slipping through your fingers. There it is and there it’s gone. Uncatchable. Elusive.

It might be happiness has a chance staying longer when there is someone sharing it with. It might be happiness transforms to a more solid form when it’s been told. When it becomes a story. It might be happiness becomes life when it’s been let out, living. And if you don’t do it right away, at an instant when it hits you like a lightning, the moment is gone, the heat cools off to something tepid and the magic is lost.

Therefore, everyone out there, I need to tell you: since Wednesday there is a new pump for the geothermal heating system in my house!! I won’t have to worry about winter in that sense anymore, cause the life time of this pump is twenty years, and let’s face it, in twenty years there will be someone else worrying about this house.

Meanwhile I will work on finding a way to catch happiness when it comes, and keep it. Not only the Arnold Palmer under the apple tree and the turquoise shower sponge - not to lessen them - but the wins I've been fighting for. Sometimes I feel like there is a bubbling laughter deep inside me and if it had a chance to come out I would heal. So, there has to be a way.

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