Friday, June 20, 2014

The wackiness of happiness


I'm sure academe has a theory to explain my experience. My basal-mood temperature is a degree above "depressed," my "pessimism" reading is higher than my cholesterol, and I'm deep into the double digits of "anxious." Yes, my emotional vital signs are poor to middling, but it doesn't take much to make my spirits soar—at least briefly. And it helps if a little something has recently gone wrong. 

Take this morning. When I reached the library, I realized I had lost the small zippered bag that holds the ear buds and power cord for my iPhone. Immediate downtick in mood. After retracing my steps, I found it right where I had left it—next to the yoga ball at the gym. My sense of elation was out of all proportion to the event: my worldview changed from a slightly-below-baseline "Everything sucks" to "Am I not the luckiest woman alive?" I believe I may have uttered those precise words to the deskhuman as I left, holding the little yellow bag aloft in victory. (And I'm pretty sure she totally understood.) Simply remembering to pick it up when I got off the yoga ball in the first place would have been a non-event. But losing it and finding it was epic—even though it cost me time and concentration at the library. 

On the other hand, a major loss, the death of my father, caused little change in my mood-o-meter. In fact, there might have been a tiny uptick in the "relief" department. After all, his final illness had triggered stress, guilt, pity and fear. And those feelings largely vanished when he did.

Perhaps the answer is to lose a little thing every day, just for the exultation of finding it.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

"On the other hand, a major loss, the death of my father, caused little change in my mood-o-meter. In fact, there might have been a tiny uptick in the "relief" department. After all, his final illness had triggered stress, guilt, pity and fear. And those feelings largely vanished when he did."

I so connected with this; thank you. All my life I feared my father's passing. Now that he's gone, the fear is too. And in its place is the realization that at some point in my life I made the appropriate, healthy break that a child needs to make from her parents. My dad taught me to be independent, and I am.
--M

Mia said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed the post and that your father passed on such strengths!

Anonymous said...

Your wonderful post brings to mind the poem "One Art" by Elizabeth Bishop. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/176996

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Mia said...

I love this poem!