looking for happiness


I heard this great tidbit of advice the other day, not meant by the speaker to be directed towards me, though perhaps Hashem or the universe had me in mind too. It was in essence this:

Stop trying to be happy and just live your life.

I felt those words unexpectedly dig a deep hole into my heart. I whispered them to myself a few times. They hold a significance to me that I can only try and put into words. One of those deeply personal moments where you think to yourself,  “I cannot believe I didn’t know this sooner in life”. I wonder, really, how I have managed my whole life without stringing those words together in my mind.

There are times in all of our lives when we live by mottos. We can’t force them or create them, instead they seem to come to us in the most unexpected ways, and only, only, when we aren’t looking.  Some of us more than others rely on words, and perhaps others more so on actions, pictures or by other means that are not within the scope of my personal experience. In my core being, every new thing I do, or think, or say or even conceptualize has to start first with a couple of words. This is my motto for the time being, though it likely will be replaced at the next step in my life, and without warning or hardly a notice I’ll be repeating some other words to myself. For example, just a couple of years ago my motto was “take hold of your spirituality.” And so I did! Quite successfully I made an abundance of changes which brought me to an entirely new place as a human being. The motto was very hard for a creature of habit like me to live up to, but it was effective and spurred me on in a direction I really needed. I’ve had many a motto before this one too, and though the words always wither with time, the seeds they plant in me continue to grow.

I haven’t put pen to paper much lately at all. And when I do, it’s rarely, if ever, having to do directly with spirituality. Though I try to be an honest writer and always live in the moments of truthfulness, trying not to fake life for sake of it looking good in print, I do wonder what people who have seen me go through these changes might conclude. The other night I was awakened suddenly with the distinct feeling that it’s entirely possible people might assume that I no longer feel passionately towards my spiritual journey. They might not know how I truly feel about Judaism. I fear you all might conclude from my silence that I am not longer in love with the Oneness of the Universe.

I can’t say much regarding that other than to say that I have ran out of words temporarily. For now I’m living in pictures and feelings. All the words and all the changes and all the experiences have led up to this time of quiet. I’m not fiery right now, I’m watery. I’m calm. I’m in the here and now. Things are settling in and getting real. I’m moving forward slowly, but surely.

In other words, I am not currently looking for happiness, I am just living my life. Right now my life is in the stillness.






How I avoid writing

Wake up at 8am. Sometimes 6. Either way,  never less than four hours behind on news. Find that someone’s already published the article I put together last night (in my head) and gotten congrats for the story I concocted (in my dreams.) Realize the novel I’ve been writing in my spare time was just a clever re-write of something I read in my teens. And that it wasn’t that good of a book.

Rethink my purpose in life. Think about Anne Lammott. If she has purpose, anybody can.

Recall the meditation book I read. Make plans to start tomorrow at 6am. No, 5am. Everyday. Or at least 3 times a week. Maybe just Sundays. If it’s not too stressful.

Decide it would be better to start that after the baby starts sleeping through the night.

Try out using the word “clever” in private because I think it makes me sound clever. It doesn’t.

Try it one more time just to make sure.

Roll my eyes at the newspaper for being so sensationalist. Remember they get paid $500 a pop. Sigh.

“It’s probably because they knew the right people.”

Hug my kids tightly. Decide to never writing again but instead live the rest of my life focusing on them. Maybe get a dog. Start doing yoga. Become centered. Start speaking quieter–like that lady from the movie last night. So calm and collected no matter what she faced. Take up painting. Scratch that, no painting– remember I tried it in my early 20s. There isn’t a big market for Pennsylvania Dutch-flowered clay pots after all.

Read a great piece on the internet that has four million and a half comments. Decide me and the author are simpatico. Make her the new inspiration. Decide to be a writer. Decide I have always been a writer. Decide nothing will stand in my way.

Read bio on the 22 year old author and realize it’s her first published piece. “I’m really a singer and painter by profession, I just write in my spare time because it’s a nice way to make a little side money.”, she says.

“ ‘Spare time’ my a—” grumble, grumble. “ ‘Side money’ this—” grumble grumble.

Decide to only write in my private journal. Save myself the embarrassment.

32!  Only eight years until 40. Okay, 7.5 years. Maybe I should embrace the gray hair like my friend’s mom.

“She never seemed old, even with a head full of gray. She was an artist! A writer is like an artist, right? Like painting with words… right?”

Contemplate dying hair. Get a new look. A different kind of mousy brown to stick under my knit cap. Look grown up. Taller people get taken more seriously. Decide to wear heels. Think what it would take to pull off the mod look from my current closet and avoid heels.

Google “clothing that make you look taller”.

Play Regina Spector. Spend ten minutes sweeping hair to the side attempting to look like an immigrant to this country. Whisper “hello stranger” with a Russian accent. What does a Russian accent sound like?  “It probably sounds better than mine. Better, better, bett-ah bett-ah, bett-aaaah…!”

Blush and walk away more scared than ashamed.

“What kind of person pretends they are an immigrant in their bathroom mirror?”

Contemplate that therapy I’ve been putting off for years. Roll diagnoses like “illusions of grandeur” around in my mouth. Then remember it’s “delusions of grandeur”. Decide on the more romantic “melancholy” instead. Try to remember how to spell melancholy by picture the Smashing Pumpkins cd.

Write a quick script in my head of Dr. Phil diagnosing me with melancholy and telling me to snap out of it.

Would his antidote involve a cat? It always always involves a cat. Realized I spelled involve wrong. Consider signing up for college courses in grammar. I’ve never been to college.

“Do they even have college courses in grammar? Is it like Grammar 101? I could probably start at Grammar 202. ….Or is it 102? or 201?”

Google, “Grammar 101”.