Thursday, July 20, 2017

What Is Happiness?


All beings want to be happy, yet so very few know how.  It is out of ignorance that any of us cause suffering, for ourselves or others".
-Sharon Salzberg

Back in the flower power days of the late sixties the rock band Iron Butterfly had a song called “Are You Happy”?  In the not too distant past Bobby McFerrin sang, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”.  Even more recently Pharrell Williams sang the following lines in his mega hit song “Happy”.

It might seem crazy what I am about to say
Sunshine she's here, you can take a break
I'm a hot air balloon that could go to space
With the air, like I don't care, baby, by the way


(Because I'm happy)
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
(Because I'm happy)
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
(Because I'm happy)
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
(Because I'm happy)
Clap along if you feel like that's what you wanna do



So here’s the question…..


Are you happy?  If you’re not, is it because you worry all the time?  As a man with a wife I don’t need to worry.  My wife worries enough for ten people.  I have moments of contentment and even joy but I don’t always feel a sense of happiness.  Sometimes I am not sure I really know what happiness is.  Is happiness what I feel when nothing is going wrong?  I once read that happiness is not getting what you want but, rather, loving what you have.  I really do try to life a life of gratitude but I also spend a lot of time thinking about and even longing for what I don’t have.  I am not talking about the accumulation of more material things.  I have all the things I want.  What gives you a sense of happiness?  Many people respond, “My family”.  At the same time, they talk about how their family drives them crazy.  Other people say, “If I had more money, I would be happy”.  Certainly everyone needs enough money for the basic necessities of life.  However, I can tell you from personal experience having more money does not necessarily make you happier.  If other people and more things cannot make us happy, what does?  In your life, if you feel happy, what is it that makes you feel that way?   

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Chloe Becomes A Teen-Ager


There are people throughout Humana and the world who have been following the stories I write about my granddaughter since the day she was born.  Once I was walking in the park across the street from my office when a woman shouted at me from her car.  She said, “Aren’t you Chloe’s Paw Paw”?  Chloe’s popularity and name recognition became greater than my own.  Today is Chloe’s birthday and she is now officially a teen-ager.  Trust me when I say she has the attitude to prove it.  I know many of you will find this difficult to believe.  It is mind blowing for me as well.  After my children were born I assumed that one day I would be a grandfather but I never realized the joy and occasional worry it would give me.  Most grandparents would feel this way.  It is now difficult to remember a time when Chloe was not part of my life or our family.  She and I bonded from the very beginning.  She was only three weeks old the first time she stayed overnight at my home.  My wife and I were in our early 50’s then but very out of practice caring for a newborn child.  I was up every hour getting a bottle, holding her, or rocking her back to sleep.  She used to grab on to my beard with her tiny fingers.  At first it was a little embarrassing how much she preferred me to anyone else, even my wife.  As she got a little older she would wake me up at the crack of dawn so I would go downstairs with her to “play the game”.  “Playing the Game” was the two of us sitting in the middle of the floor with every doll and stuffed animal she owned.  I have a Jerry Garcia doll.  She would grab it, bring it to me and say, “You be Jerry”!  At one time she was the only child in the daycare who had a Jerry Garcia tee shirt.  However, now that Chloe is no longer a child but a blossoming young woman, she and my wife are a lot closer.  She talks about girl stuff with my wife and philosophical stuff with me.  Chloe knows twice as much about life at age thirteen than I did at age thirteen.  That is not necessarily a good thing.  I hope I have a long enough life to see her grow up and become an adult.  She needs me as much as I need her.  For now I will enjoy every moment I have with her even if we are disagreeing about whatever the drama of the day happens to be.  Next week she will be going on vacation with the old folks.  She keeps us young plus I want to give her as many enjoyable experiences as I can before life get too serious and demanding for her.  You only have one childhood.  She’s already had her share of challenges and soon enough she will be an adult.  Someday I will also need her to break me out of the nursing home. 

 

P.S.  Prepare yourselves.  She will be driving a car in three years.  I wonder if Dad will let her borrow his prized Corvette?