My favorite time is right before dawn because it is the quietest time of the day. It is in that still, almost dark time that I am the most inspired. In the winter months that time comes later, and I must experience it indoors. I stand at my window looking over my beloved gardens barely visible in the dim light and I long for them to wake up from their winter nap. I stand near the desk I have set up for my winter quiet time and although it serves its purpose, it is not my garden. With a heavy sigh, I gather my writing equipment around me and face the task of my weekly post.
I realize that if I sit on the other side of my desk I can watch the sunrise. I reverse everything around and I change my view. I wrap a blanket around me to take off the morning chill, I have a steaming cup of coffee at my elbow and beautiful music coming from my headphones. In this comfort I wait for the sun to reach the rooftops. When it appears my area fills with it’s beautiful light and it is as close as it can be to being outside. I can feel the peace that I have felt in the garden and I welcome it like a long-lost friend. It’s been a long time – all winter actually. If I were to describe happiness than this would be it. Doing what I love in comfort and in a beautiful setting.
Both of my boys had competed and won a place within various honors band clinics over the past month. They have an intense rehearsal with highly reputable guest band directors and acclaimed clinicians for the weekend and end with a concert. It is a wonderful experience and I am extremely proud of both of them. This weekend was my oldest son’s clinic. He was participating in the senior Jazz clinic. As I said goodbye to him Friday morning, I said a silent prayer that his weekend be a successful one. I love watching my boys and husband playing their various instruments that come in the line up of percussion. All are very talented in all the instruments, but each has their specialty. My oldest son’s is a vibraphone. I watch him and I can visually see the music pass through him and on to his keys. I find it beautiful and inspiring. I knew when he left for his clinic, he would be with people who feel the same way as he does about music and do the very thing he loves to do. I had no doubt it would be a great weekend.
I continue to write bathed in the golden light, until I was interrupted by a text message from my son, “I Suck”. Two simple words shatter my peaceful setting and my heart breaks for him. His weekend is not going as planned. I get up and shut the curtain, because now the light seems too harsh and happiness vanishes with the sunrays. In an instant everything changes.
I do have a deadline, so I force myself to sit and go back to my computer screen. Happiness. That is what I prayed for when my son left this weekend. I wanted him to have happiness and my prayer has gone unanswered. I immediately blame God. Why can’t you make this kid’s weekend go smoothly? I only want him to be happy. And as soon as these words appear on the page, they feel like a finger pointed accusingly at God. Immediately I hear the question, “Did you pray for happiness or success”? I, of course, want him to have both, are they not closely related?
And then I recall all those lessons on happiness. The illusion of happiness is having your world as comfortable as possible. I was not praying for true happiness for my son, I was praying for comfort. I have fallen back into that trap of thinking happiness and comfort mean the same thing. When in fact happiness is more related to success. And success by definition, means overcoming a struggle, it means winning. My son is in the midst of a struggle and instead of being angry with God for that struggle, I should pray for my son’s victory.
With that I get back up and open the curtain again to let in the light. And my area is bathed in the golden hues of a winter sun. It takes very little effort to lose sight of what true happiness is. I look around my room and at my writing materials on my beautiful cluttered desk; I am truly blessed to have such a gift. Yet, I found true happiness on a rock, in intense heat, bugs swarming and nothing more than a cheap notebook and pen. Comfort has very little to do with happiness.
Later we met up with my son before the concert, he explained that he kept making the same mistakes and that he thought himself as a loser. He didn’t want to be there. He did not want to go on that stage for fear of making those same mistakes he made in rehearsal. I could see the battle he was fighting with himself and I wish there was something I could have done to make it easier on him. All I could do was offer words of encouragement.
During the concert as I watched in wonder as my son conquered his fear and played beautifully, I recall all those previous battles of his musical journey. He was exposed to instrumental band music all his life because of his percussionist dad. I had him sitting on my lap as a baby and he was transfixed. Later when he sat down at the piano, he expected beautiful music instantly to come from his fingertips and when it did not happen, he was so frustrated he wanted to quit. Luckily his teacher was patient and would not let him give up. I remember almost having to tie him to his piano bench to get him to practice. Through it all he was fighting that fear of not ever being good enough. And with each victory over fear, he was one step closer to not being just good, but becoming great. This last battle was intense, yet he pushed through as he always does.
Everyone wants to be good at something, yet we don’t want to go through the process of becoming good. The fear is of failing. If happiness comes from success, then happiness is successfully fighting fear over and over.
This maybe one of many lessons I will have in happiness. Maybe happiness is a skill that one has to learn.
What would make you happy?