Each morning, after stumbling around to find either a cup of coffee or a Diet Mountain Dew, taking a daily dose of whatever medicine a doctor has recommended, and gathering some insight to distinguish between what was yesterday and what was a dream from the night before, I start to plan the day before me. On the weekends, this planning takes place on a deck facing a protected marsh with several trees and could be imagined to go on for miles if it was not known where the development of city storefronts begin. It is usually silent and still until just before the first rays of daylight come from the horizon behind me. Then I hear squirrels.
Just after hearing them bark, either at each other or to the new dawn, there is enough light to watch them scurry about in the trees. They jump from limb to limb, chase each others’ tails, and dig in the ground below. All of this activity makes me wonder if they will have food this winter. There are so many fables about grasshoppers and ants and animals found in nature told to inspire us to prepare for the days to come. Mostly it makes me wonder if they know what they are doing. From where I sit consuming the allotted caffeine for the day, it looks a lot like they are playing and having fun.
Where do they get off, I wonder, just goofing around when there is so much work to do in life? I hope they do not expect me to feed them when there is snow on the ground. What would a squirrel have to be happy about anyway? What I have noticed, over the years, is that though squirrels appear in every way to be happy and having fun most always, they continue to flourish. And what would I know about living the life of a squirrel?
There are some people, regardless of what they “do”, who are, like squirrels, happy. Some people I meet are so busy chasing after happiness with such labor intensive desire, they do not seem happy at all. And like I ponder the life of the tree hopping, fun loving animals in the back yard, I consider what would make a person happy in the first place. Happiness is not an object. It is not a house or a car. It is not a list of friends or money in the bank. Truly, until we quit trying to posses it, we will never experience it.
It has been said by some, “I am better than no one and no one is better than me”. That seems so humble and so grounded and so connected to the Divine. It also sounds to me untrue. There is someone that is better than you. You are better than someone. Until you realize this, true happiness will allude you every morning you wake and every night you rest. Of course, the person who is better than you is the “you” that will wake tomorrow. The person you are better than is the “you” that laid its body down for sleep. These are the only people you can please. These are the only people you can influence. These are the only people you can change.
For what it is worth, may I suggest we do everything with suspicion raised in others’ minds that we are just having fun. If we are white water rafting or if we are taking out the trash, we can smile. If we are receiving a meal or offering a meal, we can do it in the name of Love. When imagining a different life or existence for ourselves, we might imagine great things and not only better things. Speak of failures as lessons, troubles as opportunities, and coincidences as divine appointments. And for the love of God, learn to accept the love of God. In many ways, happiness is in you already. The secret is to clear all of the other stuff away so that it is able to bubble up to the top.