When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life.
When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down “happy.”
They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.
– John Lennon (Singer, songwriter, 1940-1980)
I can remember the happiest time of my life…
I was seven, and I just heard the bells ring for recess. The air outside was warm, and full of electricity, probably because of the coming storm. The wind filled up my lungs as as I ran as fast as I could to the swings. In my mind they were not swings at all, but a spaceship of my creation.
I ran belly first onto the swing, launching myself into the air, my arms spread out in front of me like superman. I saw flashes of lightning, probably a thousand miles away, in the distant clouds. It just added to the excitement. I could smell popcorn in the distance, the school carnival was tonight. I would swing for the full fifteen minutes, pumping my legs, feeling the speed launch me into the air. When the bell rang, I jumped off the seat, feeling my body fall. I would land on the ground, and then roll because of the force of gravity. I liked the jolt I felt when I hit the earth, I pretended I was a G.I.-joe, and I just jumped from my helicopter in hot pursuit of Cobra.
We all sat down on the carpet inside the first grade room, which was the color of steel grey, and had all kinds of colorful stains on it from years of activities . It told the story of youth. The teacher read us the book, where the wild things are, and I was fascinated with the pictures of the giants, and how they danced with the little boy.
Life was simple back then, my parents and I went to the school festival later that night. The evening radiated with an orange light from the afterglow of the storm. I got my face painted as a tiger, and would roar at anyone who dared come my way. Back then, I didn’t even think about if I annoyed people, just never occurred to me. I wore my red oshkosh bibs, and my hair was a mess, just how I preferred it.
I won a gold-fish that night, and named it Tony after myself. They put the fish into a plastic bag, and later I had to put it into a lemonade pitcher, because I did not own a goldfish bowl (we’d get one the next day.) Later that night, I would lay in bed and stare at the glow of the sticker stars on my ceiling. Their glow was faint, melting into the darkness of the room, my eyes would then close.
If I ever lived in the moment, completely, it was then. I had no idea at that time, that one day the imagination I loved so much, would hurt me as an adult.
When I was a child, happiness was just there. It wasn’t something I had to work for, or read about how to achieve. It was just my natural state of mind. Today, it is a much different story, but that is for another post.
John Lennon was right, happiness is not something that is acquired over time, it is a state of mind. It is a choice. We can choose to be happy right here, right now.
I think later today I’m going to find some swings.