From our highest emotional crests, to our lowest troughs, happiness is a relative thing. I don’t know why that concept strikes me as so novel, especially because it truly should not; however, I felt like sharing.
I love my son with all of the depth and breadth of my soul. I never thought I could love someone as dearly and as desperately as my own Kelly, but he is amazing. Also, I don’t think any of us have much of a choice; we’re fairly hard-wired to love these terrifying offspring in an attempt by nature to prevent us from throwing them in the nearest river when their cries reach volumes comparable to your average, rusty chainsaw.
Driving home from daycare is always a spin of the ol’ roulette wheel. If he has snacks, he’s typically happy… butnot always. If no snacks, he can vary from curious about what’s passing him by outside of the car, to despondent and sorrowful and filling our car with the saddest, loudest, most pained sobs and shrieks ever.
Seriously, you’d think he lost a leg or saw Mickey get shot in the face by Donald Trump or witnessed his mother eating the eggs and toast he refused to eat five minutes prior.
One day, a few weeks ago, I was driving home with the young man, smiling like a proud father as he cooed and did such silly and amazing things as saying “hi” and “bye bye” to various cars, birds, people, signs, traffic lights.
“Bye bye, car.”
Happy as a clam, when along comes the most devastating thing a child of two years could imagine: he dropped his animal cracker.
The peels of laughter and glee were replaced with gut-wrenching screams of “Oh, no!” When I couldn’t stop driving in the middle of the road to pick up his cracker, his shouts were replaced with, “Help! Me help! MEEEE Help!”
Pretty cute, all things considered.
And here’s where I attempt to relate it to life:
I’ve, for the longest damn time, been such a negative and pessimistic person. It’s only in recent years that I’ve seen how unpleasant this can be for my wife and co-workers that I’ve tried to turn this behavior around. No one likes the cranky, negative bastard who spews his venom day in and day out. Garrett’s dilemmas, his joys and sorrows, are all as relative as any in our life.
Consider the despair, the frustration, the rage you get when you are cut off in traffic.
Imagine the joy of making that crumpled up candy wrapper into the garbage can from across the room. Swish!
Most of our daily joy and anguish, our victories and defeats, are relative and totally up for interpretation. My getting cut off in traffic is probably as vexing to me as dropping the animal cracker was to Garrett.
Yet, we all have a choice. When a family member dies, we do not have much choice in our reaction. When we get a raise or a kiss or an accolade for hard work, we don’t have much of a choice in our reaction.
In all the rest of it, we do.
This post is an appeal not only to myself, but to the rest of us to consider each others’ joy and despair, and use them to perhaps align our reactions to our own daily struggles a bit more appropriately. It could always be better.
It could always be much, much worse.
I remind myself not to get caught up in the daily agony to the point that I abandon all reason and begin to make life miserable for everyone else around me. Instead, I try to do the good Buddhist / Bodhisattva thing and spread positivity, happiness, and “chill vibes” as the kids say, to everyone I meet (and as often as possible, which certainly isn’t all of the time… this life thing is a marathon, not a sprint). If we all kept things in perspective, reminded ourselves that “it” is all relative, and walked around with a smile, would not the world potentially be a happier, lighter place to live in?
I could get with that, dancing bobbies and all.