And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.
Today is Thanksgiving in this part of the world. It’s a moment when we’re supposed to sit back and think about what we’re grateful for. One of the things I’ve learned through doing the Moments is that we can’t reserve that for just one day. It has to be a daily, year-long, lifelong process.
I have to start this again with The Waltons, though technically, not The Waltons television show. The show was born from a made-for-TV movie, The Homecoming. The kid actors and Grandma Walton remained for the television show, but the adults, Mama and Daddy (Olivia and John Walton) and Grandpa Walton (Zebulon Walton) were played by different actors. Near the beginning of the movie, Mama, played by Patricia Neal, comes up from the cellar and says, “Who wants to see something pretty?” Of course they all do. And she shows them her blooming Christmas cactus. Everyone is delighted.
My Christmas cactus bloomed this year. It’s blooming its crazy head off in the AllWriters’ classroom. And I was delighted. It struck me that, sometimes, maybe most times, we look for big things in our moments of happiness. We look for big things to be grateful for. But those small things really are what gets us through our days. So I paid attention this week to what little things got me through, instead of watching for that one Moment Of Happiness.
- The Christmas Cactus.
Michael bought this little Christmas cactus for me two years ago, when I was fresh off of radiation therapy and still reeling from the breast cancer diagnosis. I waited in the car to pick him up from the grocery store where he was working. When he came out, he said, “I got you something.” And then he pulled out the Christmas cactus, handed it to me, and said, “Who wants to see something pretty?”
Seeing that little cactus bloom this week reminded me of my favorite show. But it also reminded me of a kindness from someone who really knows me and understands what makes me happy.
- A song that lifts me up.
I love music and I always have. I sing with the best of them in my car. But from time to time, a new song comes on that just makes me want to close my eyes and listen. Dangerous when you’re driving, let me tell you. But this week, I bought the new Coldplay CD, called Everyday Life. I stuck it in my car and the first song came on and I was just…gone. I kept my hands on the steering wheel and my eyes open, but all I wanted to do was close my eyes and sink into it. There were no voices, but there was a violin that sang. I played it six times before I returned home – I didn’t play the rest of the CD until later. And when I sat down at my desk, I looked it up on YouTube and I played it again. And you know what? While I was with the song, that violin immediately connected me to my daughter, Olivia. I pictured her playing it. And I rejoiced.
The song is called Sunrise. You can hear it here. Be in a place where you can safely shut your eyes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H97NQznnvZo
- Writing that takes me away.
Note that I didn’t say a book, though it was a book that did this. But good writing, whether it’s in a poem, an essay, a short story, a novel, a memoir, can make me just melt. Sometimes, I have to stop reading for a minute, stare into space, and think or say out loud, “Wow.” Absolute admiration. And an admiration that makes me want to do my very best when I sit down to work on my own stuff.
The book that did it to me this time: The Confession Club, by Elizabeth Berg. Thank God I was on break when I began to read it. I was able to just live that book for the couple days it took me to read it. I. Loved. It. I don’t know how many times I Wowed.
- The pristine thoughts from a child.
I brought my granddaughter, Grandbaby Maya Mae, to see Frozen II. She’d been waiting to see it for so long – she is a true Frozen fan. After the movie, we had lunch at McDonalds, and out of nowhere, Maya suddenly told me she didn’t understand a part of the movie. She didn’t understand why Anna, one of the characters, didn’t fight (at first). I explained that Anna always had help around her before – her sister, Elsa, her friend, Christoff, and a goofy snowman named Olaf. But now she was alone and she had to learn that she could do it, she could be strong and she could be smart. Maya considered this, then said, “I knowed I am strong.” She bent her arms to show me her muscles. “I knowed I am smart.” She tapped her head.
She is. She knows it. Despite being into princesses, which is frowned upon by some these days. But this is a child who knows what she likes and who knows who she is. She’s writing stories. She makes amazing things out of mosaic tiles. She’s quiet and introverted out in public and she’s okay with that. And she loves princesses, dammit.
I knowed she is strong. I knowed she is smart. And I am so happy she knowed it too.
- Nights without sleep when the morning didn’t matter.
Being on break this week, I’ve been able to sleep as long as I want to. And, I can tell you, my morning hasn’t hit before 12:30 all week. But bear in mind my day doesn’t usually end until two or three in the morning either.
Two nights this week, I couldn’t fall asleep. So I went downstairs, put on the fireplace, wrapped up in a blanket, and read. First, I read the Elizabeth Berg book I already mentioned, and then I started in on Andre Dubus’ III book, Gone So Long. And in the middle of it, I looked around my quiet home, the firelight flickering, a single lamp shining on my pages, all alone in my living room, and it was quiet outside too, and I felt at peace. I felt of a piece.
That doesn’t happen often. But I’m so grateful when it does.
So. This week’s moment of happiness despite the news? That there were so many moments that lift me up, keep me going, and that I am finally, finally aware of.
And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.