I moved into a new house 4 months ago. The first day I walked through the empty rooms my chest felt like it was going to burst. It is the first time I am living by myself, a dream of mine for the longest time. Happiness was the word that came to mind when I sprawled across the living room carpet, thanking and blessing God. But it also felt like peace, gratitude, and rest. A settling down into all the deep and full places. My happiness had a life of its own as it pressed me into the outer edges of myself, bursting free into all these different postures.
But then happiness doesn’t always need events to make a home with us. I, for one, carry pieces of it in my happy places:
1. Inside my cup of extra-hot hot chocolate on a cold wintry day
2. In my inbox. Some emails come filled with such love, and I can’t help but want to be with them and in them, drinking up every word
3. My Wednesday morning body balance class
4. Sleeping in on a Sunday
5. The quiet twilight of dawn and dusk
6. The old vintage photograph of the Eiffel Tower hanging in my living room
7. Getting completely lost in a book
8. Watching people in the everyday mundane
10. Finding that perfect seat on a bus
11. Inside my cup of tea at the end of the day. Tea makes everything better
12. My heart
12. Other people’s hearts
14. Chocolate cake
15. Warm socks
16. The sun falling down on my skin
17. Beautiful smells
19. Chemistry. Attraction
20. Comfortable shoes
22. The sea
23. A good romance movie
24. A clean house
25. Big, big hugs
26. Knitted wear
27. Perfume. Makes me feel like a woman
28. Bath products that smell delicious
27. A hot shower
28. Bookstores. The smell and feel of books is a pleasure beyond words
29. Slipping in-between warm sheets
30. The quiet. Silence.
Except for Wednesdays, every morning I am up at 6.30. The house is quiet at that time and Dandenong Road which never really sleeps is coming fully alive again. I sit on my white bedroom rug and take in the morning. The silence settles around me into a comfortable knowing. A gratitude I cannot put into tangible words. I realise I’m happy, not because everything is perfect in my life because actually nothing is perfect in my life. I am happy because I choose to see where the blessings are and I see all the good that is good. I’m happy because in an unconceivable way, I am the best thing that has ever happened to me. Everything else is just a bonus.
Happiness is hard to unpack yet it is also the easiest thing to pick out in a room. But maybe our job is not to spend too much time trying to unpack it into bite sizes so we can understand its formula, because we waste so much precious time trying to pursue it. It is like that beloved friend that comes and goes whenever she feel like and refuses to be tethered. When we accept this friend as she is and not rely on her presence or absence to still be and do us, we understand what happiness is – it is everything and nothing all at the same time. It is that simple. It is that hard.
I don’t remember the day I stopped chasing happiness. I don’t remember where I was or what I was wearing. I don’t even remember the tumult that caused the shift in me. Usually I remember such things because they become stenciled to my being.
I do remember though that that was the day I realised that authenticity is more important to me than any happiness. So I let that dream go, and the beauty is that in letting go I have found a constant joy and wellbeing, for it is only when I am authentic that I am my best and happy self.
My house is not empty anymore. It is all filled up with things, trinkets and special things. Various colours ad textures coming together, sitting well together. It is beginning to take on my reflection. It is beginning to feel like home. But still, every-time I walk from one room to another my heart flutters a little and on some days, a lot, because I love this space so much. And I am happy because I get to share it first with the one person who has never left my side through it all. Me. She too, is my happy place.