Trying on Happiness Like a Comfortable Pair of Shoes

Unlike a day ago, I awoke later than normal this morning, having slept soundly. Any dreams I had were pleasant; thoughts that went through my mind overnight left me feeling good, as if I had made peace with a sometimes troublesome world.

The chill in the air this morning prompted me to pull on a favorite old t-shirt, but that wasn’t enough to satisfactorily warm me. So, I added a sweatshirt, warming me enough to feel at ease with what feels like an unseasonably cool late May morning. As I sip my first cup of coffee, I consider how good I will feel under a hot shower. That will wait for a while, though. First, I will ease into the day by acquainting myself with an unusually positive mood. And, then, I will see what the day holds. I had planned to get together today with my friend who’s an RV aficionado, but some troubling health issues with her dog put that on hold. I offered to accompany her to a veterinary ER in Little Rock if the dog needs that level of care, but I gather from an email I read this morning that probably won’t be necessary today; it may be a day or two from now, if at all. So, today belongs to me for the moment; I will behave accordingly.


All sorts of things went through my mind before I went to bed last night, from taking a road trip to New Mexico to planning a trip to visit my brother and sister-in-law in Mexico in the not-too-distant future. But, unlike some of my travel fantasies of late, those ideas weren’t spurred by escapism. Instead, those thoughts sprang from desires to explore and discover. They arose from a desire for new experiences or for refreshing my experiences in new environments. It’s odd…waking from a good sleep—after an evening in which all sorts of exciting possibilities seemed to present themselves in my mind—makes the world seem more inviting. Friendlier. More exciting. Just a better place to be!


I doubt it’s thunder I hear, though the barely audible rumbles sound like distant thunder. The sky offers no evidence that the atmosphere is angry or that the air is considering a revolt against the very cool morning air. But somewhere “out there” are noises that sound like Mother Nature either is perturbed or ate some dark grey clouds for breakfast. The faint sounds linger for several seconds before they dissolve into the background noise in and around the house: the buzzing electric motor of the refrigerator, incandescent light bulbs hissing suggestions that they are approaching the point of burning out, taps of woodpeckers that cannot differentiate wood siding from tree trunks. When sounds are too soft to identify but too loud to ignore, they become troublesome, as if one hears ghosts…or termites chewing on structural timbers that keep the house from crashing down into the crawl space below. No, that can’t be. My mood is too good at the moment to acknowledge any danger of dangerous termite infestations. I’ve recently had my annual termite inspection, anyway, so that thought should not even be permitted a temporary parking space in my head. The sounds could be imaginary, like the ones I thought I did not really hear several months ago. But those were not imaginary, though I thought they were. No, they were the sounds of blood being pumped through the veins and vessels near my ear drums. I determined the source of those sounds on my own, without any assistance from medical professionals. Some people may think I still need the help of psychological professionals to rid me of those noises. But I know otherwise. The sounds of blood coursing through one’s body is a little like hearing oneself think. But different. I cannot remember who told me, years ago, that Richard Nixon once said to someone, “We’re a lot alike, but in different ways.” That has always troubled me. It sounds too much like hearing blood being pumped under high pressure through “blood-pipes” in the body. A “blood-pipe” is a perfectly good term for the flexible carriers of blood through our bodies, isn’t it? Of course it is.


Yesterday, I wrote about the powerful first kisses of youth. And I questioned whether the excitement of first kisses is an absurdity unavailable to those of a certain age. As I mull the question this morning, I am relatively certain excitement and desire are not reserved for the young. The young stumble into first kisses, not knowing what to expect or how to feel about them, whereas age and experience enable us to develop deep and abiding wisdom about how meaningful first kisses can be when we have left the ignorance of youth behind us. Yet, even knowing what we know about them, we are apt to be surprised—stunned—when we discover again how exciting and enriching they can be. This paragraph pretends to be based on age and experience, but it is just as likely that it is based on dreams and memories resurrected from the recollections of youth. We can wish and dream as we grow older, but our fantasies and fancies may be built upon recall that has been “repaired” by time and experience. That is to say, it might all be in our imagination; and it might be running away with us. I say, though, let it run!


If I look in the mirror this morning, what will I see? Will I see a face that looks as happy as the mind behind it feels? Or will I see the same old face; possibly adjusted to accommodate a slight smile or a little grin? I suppose I’ll find out soon enough. Time to think more seriously about shaving and showering and otherwise preparing not only to face the day, but to seize it. Embrace my feelings about the day. Hold those feelings in my hands and embrace them. Be passionate. Always be passionate. Passion is what makes the day worth exploring. I read recently that one should approach each day as one might approach trying on a new pair of shoes. It would be pointless to try on a pair of shoes that one expects will be uncomfortable. The same is true of the day. Expect it to be good and comfortable and it probably will meet the expectation. Yes, I know, this sounds a little like naiveté and the power of positive thinking. So be it. What can it hurt?


Good morning.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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