Stories from my Sketchbook . . .
Last Sunday was the most stunning autumn day—bright, cloudless and warm. The girls and I spent the morning out in the garden—me doing a bit of weeding, tidying and sweeping up after the last rain storm—and girls pottering around after me, supervising and offering helpful suggestions (in between bouts of dozy little doggie-naps in the sunshine . . . )
Around mid-morning I settled myself onto the garden bench to enjoy a quick cup of tea. Mabel sat on my lap (why on earth would she sit on the dirty old grass when my lap was available), Maudie went to investigate whatever it was that was rustling in the undergrowth down by the shed, and Molly stood guard by the back gate (‘cos you never know who might try and sneak in while she’s not looking). As I sat basking in the warm morning sun my mind started to wander (as it is wont to do) and I started to think about a telephone conversation I recently had with my mother where she asked me one, seemingly simple, question —”Are you happy?”
I remember being a surprised by the question (Where did that come from? We were talking about her moving house . . . ) and a bit taken aback. I had to stop for a moment to think about it. But, you know, I couldn’t pause for too long or Mum might have imagined the worst (because mothers usually do) so I laughed it off and answered, “Well it’s all relative isn’t it? . . . but I’m definitely not un-happy . . .”
On and off since that conversation I have wondered about her question—and my reply. Am I really happy?
The word happiness originally derives from the Norse word ‘hap’ meaning luck, chance or good fortune. A modern dictionary defines the same word only as ‘the state of being happy.’ I think I’ll go with the original definition because, while I certainly wouldn’t consider myself to be in ‘the state of being happy’ all the time, I do, however, feel I have been fortunate in my life. I have family, friends, my health, a job, a place to live, and of course, my lovely dogs. I could be a whole lot worse off.
Perhaps I would more readily describe myself as someone ‘cultivating contentment’.
Are happiness and contentment the same thing? I don’t know. What I do know is, that Sunday morning, sitting peacefully in the sun with Mabel all warm and sleepy on my lap and Maudie and Molly pootling cheerfully around the garden, I felt pretty damn content . . .
. . . which, truth be told, also made me pretty damn happy . . .