How do you know if you are happy? my daughter asked. I know I feel better than I used to, she said, but I don’t know if that means I’m happy now. I suppose she meant what if this is it, and I’m not appreciating it, and then it passes?
It’s important to know what happy is, and to savour it.
What I know, I said, is that happiness is in the present, in every moment, in many separate moments. Sometimes there are many in an unbroken series. Sometimes they are discrete. There’s the slow sigh of eternity in meditation, when the heart settles without fear or premonition, no memory, no desire, deep and safe, free falling. There’s the silvery sound of trees that whisper with the visit of the wind. There’s the embrace of many kinds of love, chest pressed to chest; moments of pure exchange. You got the love. Exult, hands up in the air. You got the love I need to see me through. There’s sunlight on colour, fruit in a jar, poppies that bow, the shift of autumn light. Watch them, let them pass by, let them go. These things strung together make happiness remembered. The trick is to exist in them. Taste them, fully be in them. Pass on to the next one, land softly.
I remember whole tracts of happiness in my life. I wouldn’t have said so at the time. I was planning for more, for better, wishing my life away. I know now these days were unrepeatable happiness. So I treat now with reverence. Happiness evaporates just beyond your grasp if you pursue it. Come back into the moment and look at it. There is no future except when we get to it, and the past is another country.