Susan's Blog

Sunday, April 2, 2006

It Sho Was a Happy Day

Why are there happy days and horrible days? Why are some people happy and others, not? What are the ingredients to happiness?

Maybe it starts with what you believe happiness is. To me, happiness is both short- and long-term. Short-term happiness is being immersed in the moment, giving in to the pleasure around you, feeling anxiety-free, speaking freely the thoughts that bubble up and connecting with the people you’re with.
But long-term happiness is also a giving-in, or perhaps more of a giving up, a letting-go. Long-term happiness is about contentment with most of what your life is, what I used to scoff at as “settling for mediocrity” when I was younger and (even more) demanding. Before I had Nat, I believed that all happiness was about the total sensory overload I described above, a connected intensity with those around me that never broke. I used to demand that of all my relationships, and of course not that many survived, or they had to change. I had to change. My experience with Nat was one thing that taught me that obvious intense sensory connection is not necessary to everyone’s happiness. Happiness can be a total being unto oneself as well. I also think that surroundings and mood have an impact on one’s happiness. I tend to be happier in warmer weather (although I have had a stunningly happy winter this year, probably because of being so involved with the book tour and newfound success). Yesterday was a warm, beautiful day, almost a summer’s day, with a changeable sky that went from light blue to purply gray at times, and burst open with showers, and cleared just as quickly. We could all be outside without even thinking about it, without considering coats, or socks. So sometimes happiness is small, close-at-hand, simple and straightforward.

But there was something else, I think, that signalled to me, to us, that this was going to be a day of sweeping happiness. Maybe it was because we all feared rain but it stayed away until much later. So the happiness was feeling like we’d all gotten away with something. Maybe it was because all there was to do was jump in the moonbounce and entertain little kids and their parents, so it was about being free from work.

It was also about the five of us jumping together, all of us children for a while, having pure physical fun. It was a day for drinking wine outdoors and eating all the birthday cake you possibly could. A huge bee got inside the slide and everytime I tried to kill it with my shoe, I would fall down the slide. One kid at the birthday got a nosebleed, another had the wind knocked out of him going down the slide. Another kid drank like three juiceboxes in a row. Little boy bodies were lumped together, head over heels, little dirty feet in faces. The sun blared, the moonbounce listed. I jumped so hard I heard it pop beneath my feet, which made us all laugh. Everyone was sweaty and yelling, including me. But it was bigger than that, I know it was, and I can’t grab onto it. It was a day of profoundly sweet sensory overload (for me) and at the same time, of serene peace (for all of us). At any rate, as Mammie said in Gone With the Wind when Bonnie Blue Butler was born, “It sho is [was] a happy day.”


Oh yes, if there is one thing that my son’s autism has taught me, it is to appreciate those happy days, or even just a happy moment, because the sadness can be so overwhelming and can come upon me without warning. I loved reading of your day, and your joy is expressed so beautifully. I will strive to have a happy day today; with the clocks turned forward (the first time EVER in Indiana), we all slept past 8, it is going to be 65 degrees, and with spring break, we won’t have that Sunday night get-ready-for-school angst! However, I have to think that what we really need is to crash a party that has a moon bounce…

— added by Sam's mom on Sunday, April 2, 2006 at 8:57 am

What a great picture of you, Ned and Ben. For what it is worth, I find pics like this, of my children and I and times of obvious joy & happiness to be treasured keepsakes. I have them scattered everywhere about my home, in cheap frames mostly, but they are worth a fortune to me.

Happy Day, indeed

— added by Kudla on Sunday, April 2, 2006 at 9:53 pm

Has anyone ever told you that you know how to LIVE?

I love reading your reality, your joys and miseries that make you so real.

— added by Estee Klar-Wolfond on Monday, April 3, 2006 at 8:11 pm

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