I didn’t take my camera with me.
Why would I? It was only a quick trip to a department store. I had a gift card to use and a specific item in mind to buy. My goal was to spend as little time at the store as possible. So when I was packing my things to go, I hesitated at the camera then thought to myself, “There won’t be anything to take a picture of.”
Things have been slow at work. Let me rephrase that: at work, things have been sloooooooooow. I work year-round as a secretary at a college. Once the academic and fiscal years end, there isn’t as much for me to do. It’s not in my nature to sit around and do nothing, so I try to find tasks to fill my day. However, I can only work ahead so far.
When I run out of official duties, I still have to be at work. I find other ways to fill my time. That’s how I stumbled across a few bloggers who have taken the “The 101 Things in 1001 Days” challenge. That’s why I registered myself at the Day Zero Project website. That’s how I ended up thinking about happiness.
One of the tasks that I set for myself in the challenge was to make a list of 101 things that make me happy. You know how it is-this kind of task is supposed to help us remember what is good in life and to be thankful. It was easy to start the list. I had a dozen items in no time at all. Then I paused, still pondering what other things make me happy. What does happiness feel like? Taste like? Look like? Smell like? Sound like?
I don’t think that Philip needs some website to be happy. I don’t think he needs to be reminded to find joy in simple pleasures.
He just does.
When we arrived at the mall, I sent Peter off with Philip.
“Take a few laps,” I instructed. “I’ll be done in a few minutes.”
It wasn’t as if Peter had much choice. As soon as I transferred Philip’s hand into his, Peter was being dragged off down the aisle. I quickly found what I was shopping for and looked around to see where my boys were.
I heard them first.
I heard laughter followed by a squeal of joy. I heard happiness.
I spotted Philip with Peter in tow, Philip’s whole face lit up with a smile.
I was wishing I had brought my camera.
“What have you boys been doing?” I asked.
“We rode the escalator,” Peter explained.
That’s was it. The novelty of the escalator was sufficient source of entertainment and happiness for Philip.
I still had enough on my gift card to buy one more item, so I sent the boys off on another trip. By the time they finished their second lap, I had my purchases. Philip was still giggling. Peter was smiling, too.
“You want to take him one more time while I check out?” I asked Peter.
“No,” Peter replied. “It’s your turn to take him.”
That’s how I got to share the joy of riding the escalator with Philip. I forgot about how, as a kid, I used to be scared of escalators, anxious that I might trip getting on, aware of how my slightly off depth perception always made it a challenge not to stumble off when the escalator came to an end.
Today, while holding Philip’s hand, I could just share his happiness and delight in his laughter.
After we returned from the store, I was reflecting on happiness. Earlier today at the park, Philip contentedly glided on a swing as its chains squeaked. At the library, he found pleasure in making a high-pitched sound as he entered so that he could hear it echo off the high ceiling. On the way home from the store, he occupied himself playing with the paper that had been stuffed in one of my purchases, enjoying the crinkling sound it made and the feel of its texture in his hands.
Then, once we were home, a thunderstorm came through. Philip heard the raindrops and went to look at the window. He laughed and giggled as he watched the downpour. He squealed at the clap of thunder.
Watching him watch the rain made me realize once more that Philip can just be happy. It answered some of my questions. This is what happiness looks like, what it sounds like. My son doesn’t have to put it on a list of things to do or carve time out of his daily schedule (10:00 am: Laugh and Smile). He just observes his world and finds delight in small things. If he did want to make a list of 101 things that make him happy, I bet it wouldn’t take him 1001 days. It would only take as long as it takes to itemize all of those simple pleasures that he doesn’t take for granted.
Don’t believe me? At home I had my camera, so here is the photographic evidence.
So I ask you: what makes you happy?