Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Relief and Ground

There are times when I sit back and observe my 6 year old at play with his friends -- those simple games, those minor squabbles, those negotiations and reconciliations, those squeals of delight, those shrieks of glee.

Children don't need a reason to be happy: they just are. If there are times when they are not happy, then it is because of some reason -- something that did not go their way. And when that has passed, they are happy again. Happiness is their default natural state. It is what they return to every time, all the time. They don't go around seeking happiness; it is already there. It is where they live. We adults refer to childhood as a time of innocence. The loss of innocence comes with the discovery that that is not how life is.

We adults need reasons to be happy. We are constantly seeking happiness (as though something we do can bring it to us, or someone we know can gift it to us). But not finding it, most of the time. If there are times when we are happy, then that is because of some reason -- something that did indeed go our way! And when that has passed, we're unhappy, again. Unhappiness does not always mean sadness or misery, but includes a variety of different feelings, emotions, moods, and states of mind. However, all of these have one thing in common: they cannot be described as happiness. As adults, our unhappiness is our natural state. It is what we return to every time, all the time. It is already there, always with us. It is where we live. We may indulge ourselves in the pleasures of life, we may eke instant gratification from the things money can buy, we may celebrate momentous or memorable occasions, we may revel in the joy of achievements or victories, and at times we may even derive satisfaction from our overall state of being. But we are seldom happy the way children are -- spontaneously and unconditionally. We look for causation through, or at least correlation with, various externalities: places, activities, things, people ...

Those of us blessed with happy children find it soothing to watch them be happy ... and to sometimes even plunge into their moment, to vicariously splash around in that pool of pure natural happiness, letting their waves of joy wash over us, letting some of that clean, wholesome goodness rub off on us like the mud on their sleeves.

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