Happiness

I started this post as an extended review of a book called The Happiness Project, that got my wheels turning over the active and determined pursuit of happiness.  Turned out that it was a much bigger topic and focus of my life than just one little essay.

Reading the book made me realize how happy I am right now, in my life exactly the way it is. I’m well aware that many other people would not at all be happy with this, perhaps would not even be able to endure it.  I’m often perched on the edge of broke, when I work for money it’s at a job I don’t love, I’m living in my very unfinished converted barn without running water, windows or constant heat.  But in downward comparison, I have more than some of the wealthiest Cubans have.  Cuba is much better off than a lot of Africa.  Relative poverty in Canada is still unattainable riches to the  third world, and the great thing (that I’m quite grateful for), is that I rarely forget it.  I feel rich, almost all the time.  I have an abundance of time, good credit, my health, the unflickering love of friends, wood to burn and a stove to start fires in, beautiful wheels, plenty of food, clean air and water. I live in one of the most beautiful chunks of the most beautiful countries, and I really love the things I do for free.

The few aspects of my life that aren’t ideal don’t bother me that they’re not ideal, and I think that that is the real definition of happiness.  The non-ideal elements don’t throw you off the balance.  One is never going to get every aspect of your life into total alignment with your ideal vision, certainly not living as small pieces of a greater whole that is collectively terribly out of ecological harmony.  At the very least, putting off happiness until arriving at some ideal is an unreasonable expectation.

I also realize I’ve done a huge amount of work to become what I think is pretty damn happy.  I am deeply proud of being in this place, now, with a quick backward glance at struggle that at times, I barely survived.  It is not an exaggeration to say I am lucky to be alive, several times over.  But beyond luck and endurance, I am here and happy, and that is my own doing.  It does take work, and deliberate attention, and that is the gold of this book.
Oh, there’s lots more

Tangledfeet

Note Mucky in the background, snorting and looking daggers because I'm invading HIS paddock

Now that the snow’s all melting and the world generally looks its muddiest, bedraggled worst, I’m ever so glad for all the fall cleanup I did.  Still, the disappearing snow exposes all the unaddressed projects and detritus that needs attention.  Today I ringed the fruit trees with Tanglefoot, (hopefully) before those little gossamer rappelling bugs wake up to climb the tree.  Wow.  That stuff is nasty.  It looks and behaves like a cross between taffy and bearing grease, without the pleasant aroma of either.  And they give you a two inch stick to apply it with?  That is a cruel joke.  I really hope the horse doesn’t take an interest in it, is all I can say, because that would be like getting chewing gum out of a toddler’s hair.

Spring

The garden is now flooded to its banks and the lower third of the paddock is water on the move. Dozens of crows feast on worms drowned by the week of rain, and the deer are back, timidly snacking on the hay and flapping their fluffy tails at me. The ground is 2/3 clear of snow, the crocuses are coming, and Spring is here. Mucky is rolling in the mud, caking his mane and getting his blanket twisted; crows are using the slowly flowing paddock lake as a birdbath. Everywhere the earth is thawing, and drinking, and the sun is pulling life back up from under the snow.

And I remain, remarkably, the happiest girl in the world.

On homonyms and criticism.

I’m very critical of other authors.

My high expectations of grammar and spelling (even though I evade that spotlight myself doesn’t mean I don’t shine it on others) mean that I can sour on a book for just one wrong homonym, and my keen psychological insight (if I do say so myself) makes me interpret, say, the over-mentioning of a prior career, or a description of an altercation with the spouse, as: he/she still feels illegitimate as a writer, or he/she’s just trying (still!) to get the last word, in print.

Homonyms are my personal bugaboo, as a matter of fact.  One while for a wile or bore that should be a boor and my scalp crinkles.  It’s very, very common, and it makes me seethe inwardly.  I know there’s better things to seethe about, but for me, it’s homonyms.  I just am who I am.

This makes me feel hypocritical and uncharitable, because I haven’t done the work of producing a book from my heart, and if I get catty and review a book “honestly”, then really, the strongest effect that’s ever going to have is upsetting the author in question when they’re googling themselves.   That does not bring more love into the world.  Some books do just piss me right off, but did I have to finish them?  Do I have to publish exactly what I think?

On the other hand, I highly value the clear and unstinting expression of opinion.  Some of my favourite people spray insults as freely as Febreeze, and I love that you can always be sure exactly where you stand with them.  Not to mention, if all that you say is sugar, then it gets diluted.  Even the positive loses its credibility.  How to reconcile?

——–

“And all this time I thought Googling yourself meant that other thing!”  – Marge Simpson

This is my garden.

If it would freeze properly, I could skate on it.  I tried once, but it wasn’t solid enough.  this really makes me wonder if my low-lying location was a good idea.  Are all the stewing nutrients of the soil going to drain away?   How on earth are the garlic cloves faring in this lake?  Maybe it will turn out be a good thing I planted them too deep.

If this means I have to start all over this spring from breaking sod, that’s just depressing.  Starting from scratch is a terrible idea.

One thing for sure- next year I’ll definitely take the tomato stakes out in the fall, so I can skate.  I left them because supposedly tomatoes enjoy growing in the same place year after year.

I got a package from Iceland today!

It’s fresh!  It still has Iceland all over it; Iceland air inside of it!  Pretty Ísland stamps, and the Posturinn box with the ubiquitous postal service logo and colours- just a few days ago, this box was thousands of miles away in that magic volcanic island nation.  I was even thinking the bubble wrap was special, as I reused some in a package going to Cuba.  Two islands, completely different.

Here’s the little critter that was inside the box…