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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Falling into Happiness.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about happiness the last few days. It is a complicated subject, with a lot of intricate, moving parts, meshing, turning the whole machine, carefully balanced . It could be something you do, or it might be the way you do something. It might be something you see, or it might be how you see something. It's probably all of these things in a mixture that changes every day. You have to make an effort, I guess.

Yesterday I went kayaking, something that makes me happy. For some reason the ramp into the water was covered with some sort of slippery moss. I fell right on my bottom, with some minor cosmetic damage to my hand and injured my pride. It should have made me unhappy, maybe even a little angry and certainly humiliated. Nobody was there to see it, so I could laugh it off, climb in my boat and go, smiling about my good fortune. It might have made me angry, but I was able to see it differently.
Straight out from the dock is a small, almost square island. On a sandy point that juts out from the northeast corner were several turkey buzzards, fascinating birds. They float so gracefully in the air, drifting majestically, soaring in wide, almost perfect circles. But, on the ground they look, clumsy, cruel, malignant. The contrast is irresistible, it makes me smile, kind of like life. If you look at it from a distance it is perfect, get closer and the cracks, blemishes and scars begin to show.

As I paddled closer to get a picture they turned and glared at me. They were probably thinking "come back when you're dead." My cousin and a friend from New Zealand thought they might have seen my watery flop and thought I was a goner. Which would have explained the baleful look. Nothing quite so disappointing as watching your dinner get up, rinse the mud of his pants with lake water and paddle away. Unless it comes over and wants to take a few photos.

After getting several blurry, out of focus shots (I carry my phone in a water proof floating case and it makes the photos a little filmy, plus I am a lousy photographer)  of my bird friends I took off for the open water.

It was amazing, I just cruised. I thought "man, all this kayaking is really starting to pay off," It was smooth sailing. I felt invincible, a machine, Hercules with a double bladed paddle. One powerful stroke sent me shooting silently across the muddy water. It was bliss.

Until I turned around and started heading back.  All of the current was flowing out, into the lake, away from the slippery dock and the carrion birds. Every inch was a struggle, and if I stopped for a drink the flow would turn my little boat around and start pushing me out and away from my car, from my home, my family on to a life of a watery nomad, destined to drift across Hoover Reservoir for all eternity. I moved closer to shore, thinking it would be less work there. Not close enough to be under the trees, where snakes, spiders and ticks were waiting to drop and feast on a poor tired paddler.

Finally, I made it back, carried my boat to my car, sat down and had a cold bottle of carbonated water, so cold there were tiny chips of ice floating in the bottle. It was Ice Mountain, one of my favorites, calorie free, sugar free, no caffeine and a taste that made falling into the water seem worth it. And I was pretty happy.

In a span of a couple of hours I slipped and fell in brown, filthy looking water, tore a piece of skin out of my finger, scraped my palm, saw some of the most beautifully ugly birds, paddled like a god, and a clown, and it all made me happy. Even though there were difficult parts I just kept going, and I guess that’s kind of the secret, love the good stuff, embrace the bad stuff and stay away from ticks, spiders, snakes and poison ivy, wash the cuts and treat them with antibiotic cream and make everything sound more important than it really was. Maybe. I’ll have to think about it for a while.

Today we’re going to try something a little different for our happy song. I’m not sure it’s a happy song, but I’m not sure it isn’t. I am certain it is a cool song, with a universal message, something we all need.

“Lido be running having great big fun til he got the note,
Sayin’ toe the line or blow and that was all she wrote,
He be makin’ like a beeline headin’ for the borderline going for broke”

It makes me smile just thinking about it. If you like this song, vote for it on the coming, Life Explained Happiness Music Poll at Life Explained.