Many years ago when I was around 20 or so I remember reading the National Geographic magazine. It was special back then and had great photos from around the world. There was a story about a woman gathering rice in a rice paddy of Southeast Asia. I remember the journalist asking this woman if she was happy. Now the woman lived in a native hut made from local trees. Her life had no running water or any of the conveniences we take for granted. The journalist noted the puzzled look on her face when he asked her this question. She answered that “being happy was something that happened between the time you were born and the time you died.” It happened. It wasn’t a goal. It wasn’t a state of mind. It wasn’t analyzed. It just happened. Maybe the rice gathering was easier that day and it made her happy. Maybe the crop was good and she felt happy. From the time she was born until the time she died, she did the best she could do and experienced being happy.
This is not a notation about happiness or seeking happiness or having it as a goal. Think about it. What kind of goal is it to strive for happiness. I really think the rice gatherer had it correct. It is was happens and we go on our way. If you live long enough, you will have many random events in your life. There will be losses and gains. Many of these we will have no control of. Losses of jobs, spouses, children, friends, mobility, financial, dreams and of course, what might have been. Along with these losses are bouts of happy; gains of money, great children, loving home life etc.
Since we can only manage ourselves–not others or time itself, it really comes down to “all you can do is all you can do”. You do the best you can with what you know how to do at that time. That is why we learn over and over to forgive ourselves. If we had known better, we would have done better. We didn’t, but now we do and we can move on to behaving better, making better and wiser decisions and experiencing happiness. I think it should be a motto for all the marriages and unhappy homes that if the parents had known better, they would have done better. We seek redemption for our past mistakes and we learn to also give it.
The wiser we become, we realize it doesn’t take too much to make us happy. Our needs and wants change, our priorities and values mature, we take less for granted and we learn not to assume. We start to surrender to a greater force that has always been in control here. We ride the winds of the force and we learn what the woman in the rice paddy knew. Between the time you were born and the time you die, happy will be there along the way.
Thank you always for your wise counsel. When I was in my thirties, I became very ill. I was sure I would die from all the pain and suffering. My physician told me, “ Do not worry, you will live to suffer more. “ Now I have learned to appreciate the good times and cherish my family. I am so happy you are feeling better. Love, Karen
I love this, Gail! It is only in embracing and experiencing this moment NOW that we can experience the happiness that is ours, always, in the center of our selves, who we truly are. Thank you for the reminder!
Thank you all for your comments. They are heartfelt and appreciated.
I think there is a “happy” within all of us. For some their happy may be hidden within the depths of their being. Life experience(s) seems to allow for the degree of happiness that one may, or may not feel – but know that it is always there. Your words aroused my sense of happy and made me smile. Relating to my own personal challenges throughout time, I sit back feel life and my happy. Loss , pain , struggling with decisions – all difficult – but happy is always there. There to some degree so we let ourselves …”be happy” .
Thank you for the ‘All you can do is all you can do” .
From My Friend Thom The World Poet….
YOU CAN DO MORE
You give more,be more
than you did before.Comparisons
are only between PAST YOU and FUTURE YOU.
Your present is the gift where they both meet,
sit down and start a conversation.When you agree with yourselves,
you find yourself on a path that is perfect FOR THIS MOMENT only.
It will never happen again,and may never have happened this way before.
Here is where you are right now.Here is where you begin( again)
Blank page.Open stage.NOW -DO MORE!..BE-MORE!
This made me recall an old folk tale I read many years ago.
A very rich king had everything. When he received more beautiful and wondrous things, he felt great joy and happiness. But, then some calamity struck and he was dropped into great despair. He couldn’t stand these terrible upsets of emotion. He decided to send out word that he would reward anyone who could help him to gain some steadiness of this constant, jarring change of feelings. Many artists, philosophers, and musicians tried to help him. However, nothing seemed to do any good.
One day an old peasant silversmith came to see him. “Sire,” he said. “I believe I might be able to give you some peace.” The king was willing to let him try. So, the old man went off and worked for awhile. Soon he returned to the palace with a simple silver bracelet. He told the king to slip the bracelet over his wrist and turn it whenever he wanted to. I think it may help, and I do not want any prize or reward. The king did as the old man suggested and turned the bracelet around on his wrist reading the words that were etched on it. “This too shall pass.”
Heartwarming reminder and sage advice, Gail. I’ve been blessed to experience the Asian culture and see the rice paddies in Bali. Amazing grace!
Thank you Gail!
For reminding me to look forward and not backward of what I should have/ could have done differently but to now change for the better from the knowledge gained from the past. I’ve been thinking too much about the past… thank you for helping me see things in a different way, I feel some relief…
You summed up what my grandparents told me when I left for college (many years ago as well) and their parents told them when they left Europe to escape human tragedy….etc. my soul hears this and nods.