I will be labeled as a happy person by most. I greet people with a happy smile. I never forget to raise my hand to neighbors as they are driving by. The fact that I generally carry dog poop in a plastic bag in that hand and raise the dog poop in greeting is beside the point. You see, I generally see my neighbors when I walk my dog. I always wave frantically to drivers who let me go by with a casual flick of their hand. I am overwhelmed by the show of generosity in people in general.
And then there are occasional days when I am run down, cranky, hungry and tired. Then the gloom descends. Then I am a Grinch, I can literally feel my heart shrink three sizes. I don’t want to smile at the nice lady handing my provolone cheese at the super market. I smile anyway because I, too, work in customer service. Anyway, this evening was such a time when I felt I bore the weight of the world on my shoulders. I went to work, dashed back to cart my two children back and forth between swim team, football practice, confirmation meeting. In between dropping off and picking them up, I stopped at the grocery store to pick up provisions for the week. Grocery shopping, being one of my least favorite activities, did nothing to elevate my mood. The tiredness and empty stomach aggravated my grumpiness to no end.
While I tried to zip by the aisles, throwing things in my cart, a young mother tried her best to block me at every step of the way. She was having way too much fun in the grocery store with her toddler. The toddler wasn’t walking yet, she was scooting around on the dirty floor of the super market. The germophobic me shuddered at the scene and the veteran mom in me wagged a finger at the new mom. Get that baby off that floor immediately, woman! I wanted to scream. As I stood, somewhat impatiently at the deli to get my three-quarter pound of provolone, I heard a squeal. I turned around to a scene that brought the biggest smile to my face. The baby was taking her first steps – at the supermarket. And the mother was squealing her encouragement and filming the momentous event at the same time. The other grumpy shoppers like myself, stopped in our tracks to savor the moment. The woman in the deli left my cheese on the weighing scale while we all joined in aaahing and oooohing at the feat of the proud toddler. She waddled for a few moments and then went down on her bottom with a happy, two teethed grin. We all clapped! “Awww, honey, do it again!” “What a big girl!” “You are walking!!” Comments came from all sides. The mother looked at us, beaming, ‘Her first steps! She took her first steps!’
A special moment in the child’s life, and in the mother’s life, as well. We, the grumpy, Grinchy shoppers at that supermarket will always be a part of their joy and special memory. The thought made me happy. The line was long at the check out counter. I didn’t complain. I went to my car, unloaded my groceries and asked a woman who parked next to me if she needed my cart. She took it with a big smile and a grateful ‘thank you!’
Happiness isn’t really complicated, if you think about it. There are these little moments strewn around us like treasures. The moment when the big black and yellow school bus pulls up to my drive way and I see through the window a beautiful teenage girl sedately walking towards home, lost in her own thoughts; or a rambunctious seven-year old running like Usain Bolt because he is free from school. The moment when I see the back lights of Sean’s car backing into the driveway after a day’s work. The moment I feel the wet nose of Sage touch my feet in unconditional love. The lonely dove sitting on the electric wire against the back drop of a spectacularly clear, blue sky. The moment when I look out of kitchen window into my back yard to see the most fascinating sunset. I can string these moments together and wear them as a garland when my heart starts to shrink three sizes down. I simply need to look around and be mindful of the innumerable moments that I own, yet often, don’t realize.