Growing up with Mother Goose and Old MacDonald ( I went to nursery school in an era when the Happy Meal serving MacD was yet to appear on the urban landscape) poetry recitation class was a series of rhymes being churned out one after another beginning with a tea pot that poured tea out and reaching a crescendo with the entire kindergarten group clapping their hands in unison to the beat of When you are Happy and You Know It.
This summer I walked into a book store in Mussoorie to find a hardbound green pocket book by Ruskin Bond entitled Little Book of Happiness. Placed on my bedside now the book runs like a thread of tiny quotes on happiness in Bond’s inimitable style.
“Happiness is as elusive as a butterfly, and you must never pursue it. If you stay very still, it may come and settle on your hand. But only briefly. Savour those moments, for they will not come in your way very often.”
When I think of it, happiness is not that elusive once you start to savour the brief moments.
The bliss and warmth of sleeping in the mellow winter sun
the hint of cardamom and ginger as you wrap your fingers over your morning cup of tea
freshly washed sheets when you slip in between the covers
a walk in the mountains through the mist with the mountain breeze on your face and the whisper of pines in your ears
a good book to curl up with on a rainy afternoon
the Dachshunds flopping by my side after an exhausting evening of chasing each other and then nuzzling for comfort
a plate of exquisitely spiced fragrant home made biryani laced with saffron and the love that maa put into it
the first litchis of the season
long conversations with old friends the kind that stretch late into the night and you end up wondering where the time went
finding that perfect moment and capturing it in a photograph
an old song with a haunting melody
fresh blooms in the garden
Life for me has been about seizing happiness from between the moments of trial and tears by snatching these little joys – savouring them ,holding on to the after taste even when the moments have gone by. As Pema Chodron said,” Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior’s world “
Of course there are the other moments as well…when I overcome the nagging fears of the unknown , the worries ,the gnawing knots in the stomach and go beyond them – the tiny successes that come when you jump off that cliff of constant fear and slowly inch towards the dream that you carved out for yourself. For it is only when you quit folding yourself into a pre-conceived shape – when you get out of the amniotic sac of comfort while knowing that perhaps sometimes things take a little while to fall into their own- it is when you celebrate the tiny highs that you can get past the inevitable lows. Of course one can never have eternal happy- the proverbial roller coaster of life shows you the dizzy euphoric highs and the crummy miserable lows. But eventually when the calendar flips, if you keep the zest for life,if you can grab joy in the small moments, maybe occasionally even clap your hands and stamp your feet as the rhyme went- that is when you can find happiness.