“I am thankful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.”
–Henry David Thoreau
And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.
It feels a bit ironic to be writing The Moment on a day that is nationally set aside for giving thanks. Some readers have referred to this blog as a gratitude list, and I’ve always felt just a little bit cringey at that. I’ve tried, in the past, to write gratitude lists. But there’s something about doing that, about actually calling it that, that turns my lists into obvious and repetitive cliches. Whenever I’ve tried to do a gratitude list, they become the same thing, over and over, by day 3:
- I’m grateful for my family.
- I’m grateful to have a place to live.
- I’m grateful that AllWriters’ is still thriving.
- I’m grateful…
And there I would bog down and push the list away and head on to other things. By the time I got to day 4 or 5, the list was forgotten.
Something about calling it A Moment Of Happiness made it easier. I started the blog during a phenomenally stressful time in my life that, after I announced that I would do the Moment publicly and every single day for a year, became even more stressful. I went from an assault to job losses to my daughter being severely bullied to my diagnosis of breast cancer. And yet, overall and in retrospect, I am so glad I started the Moment when I did, because it truly got me through that awful year.
Today’s Moment Of Happiness Despite The News officially started in 2017, and then This Week’s Moment Of Happiness Despite The News followed in 2018. Which means I’ve been writing this blog for five years. To me, that’s nothing short of amazing, and like that first year, I really believe this blog has gotten me through. It’s caused a major paradigm shift in me – from the negative to the positive. No, I am not someone who curls my hands together to form a heart, nor am I someone who croons, “Everything happens for a reason,” whenever someone tells me about something awful that is happening in their life. I also never, ever remind people that there are others who have it worse. No one should be made to feel shame for feeling what they feel. We all have our own personal challenges and to us, they’re huge. No one should diminish them. Not even ourselves.
This all leads up to this week’s Moment. When I considered what I was going to write about this week, I kept coming back to the same thing, but then I shook it off and thought, That’s too small. But that particular moment kept drifting to the top of my brain. So eventually, I pulled myself aside and said, “What’s too small? You once wrote about a grasshopper landing on your windshield. You also wrote about a straw wrapper taking flight in your convertible and reminding you of a moth which led you to a childhood memory of chasing moths, which you then called butterflies, in your backyard. So what’s too small?”
I made good sense. I love when I talk to myself. I’m a good conversationalist, if I do say so myself to myself. Though I do wish I’d quit doing it in the aisles of grocery stores and in public restrooms.
So here’s the Moment.
Last Saturday, I took Grandbaby Maya Mae to the movies. We saw Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile which ended up being an absolutely wonderful movie. It’s very musical, with really, really good music, and partway through one of the songs, a little girl in the section right in front of the screen stepped into the aisle.
I noticed her when she came in. This wasn’t a princess movie, but she was decked out in full princess. Gown to the floor. Silver slippers. Long hair swept up away from her face and then trailing down her back in waves of gold.
And now, in the glow of the movie, she stepped into the aisle. And she DANCED.
Arms up, she twirled. She shimmied. She swung those hips and she jumped. She was absolute pure movement. Joyful movement. Completely unself-conscious movement. She didn’t care if no one watched and she didn’t care if everybody did. She just had to move and her movement was beyond joyous.
Thank God no one stopped her. Her mother just let’er rip.
I watched this little one and I rejoiced. Look at her! Look at her!
And of course, it tumbled me into the memory of another young one. Olivia was seven years old when the movie Mama Mia! came out. I fell in love with the music, bought the CD and played it incessantly in the car. Olivia fell in love with the music too, so we took her to see the movie, even though it was rated PG-13 and she was only seven. We took her to see it at least three times, and one of those times was a singalong. And in all of those times, Olivia, filled with that same musical joy, leaped into the aisle and danced. And I didn’t stop her.
And now, this little one. In full princess regalia. My heart lifted and danced with her. And with her mother.
When the movie was over and the lights came up, Grandbaby Maya Mae looked at me, in all her serious I’m-almost-ten-ness, and said, “Well. That movie was stunning.”
I have an almost ten-year old granddaughter who uses the word “stunning” while discussing movies.
Oh, it was such a good day.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Here’s to a Moment of Happiness every day.
And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.