Mrs Happy

Just because it’s good to remind myself sometimes, here are some ordinary everyday things that make me happy:

Walking up a hill/through the woods/on a beach/away from it all

Cooking for my family

Weather. Pretty much any weather except sideways sleet.

Singing harmonies

Wearing flipflops

Big waves

Soft snow

Catching up with old friends and realising they haven’t changed in 20 years

When my kids voluntarily hold my hands in public

The smell of gorse blossoms and pine trees

Having a good man around the house

Picking vegetables from my garden

Meeting people who are genuinely but not obnoxiously eccentric

The first sip of coffee in the morning

Quietness

Music most people think of as weird hillbilly shit

A pile of muddy boots by the door

Never having watched a full episode of the X Factor or I’m a Celebrity…

Having a house full of kids who are playing happily without anything involving electronics or batteries

Finding a funky bit of clothing in a charity shop, and it fits

Watching a good game of rugby

Splattering through mud on my bike and getting some on my face

My neighbour’s cat, Felix, who purrs whenever I pick him up

That little rush of excitement at the start of a movie you really want to see

A bath before bed

Driving my little Skoda on a country road

Seeing a really cool bird, like an owl or a dipper

Book shops

Feeling really knackered after a good run/swim/hike

Reading something I’ve written and liking it

A group hug with Claire, Eileen, Elaine, Sylvia and Karine

Leaving work at the end of the day

Looking back over my long list, and realising there are a lot more things I could still put on there.

On the Back of a Turtle

 One of my favourite anthropologists, Clifford Geertz, once wrote:
There is an Indian story–at least I heard it as an Indian story –about an Englishman who, having been told that the world rested on a platform which rested on the back of an elephant which rested in turn on the back of a turtle, asked (perhaps he was an ethnographer; it is the way they behave), what did the turtle rest on? Another turtle. And that turtle? “Ah, Sahib, after that it is turtles all the way down.”
Right now I can’t help but think that the turtles are getting restless. After all, who could blame them? The load on their backs gets heavier and thornier by the minute.  And so I have to wonder: what happens if they decide to pack it in completely and swim off into space. The poor old elephant won’t stand a chance. Neither will we.
I have almost completely stopped watching the news. Like my grandmother Lucy, I am prone to fits of depression over global events I can’t control. These days of natural disasters and nuclear meltdowns, financial crises, wars and fuel prices could easily send me running for the Prozac. I have to ration my intake of news to ten minutes a day, or a bit of radio time driving home from work.  But it’s enough.
The thing that strikes me is that we treat all of these events as separate things- but really they’re all part of the same old stack of turtles, each one precariously balanced on the back of the other.  Take any single reptile out, the whole caboodle threatens to come crashing down.
So what do we do about these turtles, then? For me, it’s about trying to find the balance in my own life here on this wobbly old pile. It’s about lifestyles. I have more or less rejected the ambition and material aspirations I had when I was much younger, and set my sights on more modest goals: to cook good meals and sit down with my family for tea most nights, to raise happy children, to find time for creativity, to be able to laugh a little- or better, a lot-each day.  Last week I planted vegetables and decided to move my savings from a certain bank (much in the news of late for its role in the global financial meltdown) to my credit union. Both things felt good. I heard the turtles give a little sigh of relief.