redefining happiness


Took this love and I took it down
Climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
Till the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
And can I sail through the changing ocean tides
Can I handle the seasons of my life?
Oh oh I don’t know, oh I don’t know

~Lyrics by Stevie Nicks “Landslide” / Fleetwood Mac

I love Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac.  Always have.  “Landslide” is one of those songs I have loved and loved well for years.  It is also one of those lyrical and interpretive songs that I think takes on new meaning every time you listen to it. Landslide was released in 1975.   I think I first became really aware of the song around 1980 or 1981.

What it triggers in me today as a thoughts process is completely different from when I first heard it. When I first heard the song I was dancing on the edge of my life between being a teenager and trying to become an adult.  Now I am an adult, and my life has changed a great deal (for the better) in the past few years. This is the year I turn 50, and my personal happiness is greatly redefined, so this song has new meaning yet again.

That all being said, there always has been a constant about this song. To me the constant  has been the question of what is happy and how do you handle life. Or at least I think so.

I sometimes think it is unfair to ask someone if they are happy.  Not because it is a bad thing, but because it is such a loaded question. Being happy at 14 is different from being happy at 18, which is different when you hit 21, and so it goes from there until all of a sudden you are looking at 50. And face it, do you remember being a teenager and hearing someone was 50 years old? (Laugh out loud now, it’s o.k.)

As you get older you can’t help but wonder (if you are honest with yourself) “am I happy, or am I settling to be happy?” Or the more simplified life question of “what is happy?”

It has taken me until the past  few to be able to say I am happy with my whole heart.  It took a lot to get here.

Face it, human beings are a work in progress. Each experience has its own learning curve and living life out loud is not without the occasional bumps in the road and path deviations.  I have learned that it is all what you do with the bumps and path deviations.

In a sense I feel I have come full-circle.  I am with someone I went to high school with.  We never dated back then, were aware of one and other, shared many friends. We traveled in similar, yet different circles. He was a boy I was just friends with in high school.

Yet as an adult when I realized I was falling in love with him, I felt like I was coming full-circle and my heart was coming home to entirely where it should be.  Yet I knew if I had not had my life before us, we wouldn’t have found our “us.” I also feel that falling in love with someone who knew you when you really weren’t even a fully formed person is a big bonus.  And no, it doesn’t have to make sense to you, it does however make its own sense to me. With him, I am truly home.

So here we are, and we are in our life together. Am I happy? Yes. Almost dizzyingly so at times. Some days it just bubbles up within me.  I laugh at the silliest things. There is more of a lightness of spirit. I feel free and well-loved.

What is happy? So many things.  Happy is the sight of a sleeping child curled up in a quilt.  Happy is watching dogs frolic.  Happy is hearth, home, garden. Happy is knowing you love and are loved. Happy is knowing you can trust. Happy is being able to be yourself freely.  Happy is being able to share this with friends and family. Happy is living in Chester County.  There is more to happy, but you catch my drift. Happy is being happy and content in your own life.

Being happy can have bittersweet moments, however.  I have written before about the transition from the Main Line to Chester County.  I joke when I say some people act like I moved to Iowa or Minnesota, but it is true.  A lot of people I called friend have made my transition with me.  We no longer see each other as often, but I know they are there.  I am making new friends as well. And I have also, oddly enough, rediscovered some earlier childhood friends that I so enjoyed way back when.   It is pretty cool meeting them again as adults and I am enjoying that as well.

But. (There always is a “but” isn’t there?)

There are some people who haven’t made the life transition.  Not through any disagreement or earth shattering we-are-finished kind of moments, but from the simple and slightly sad evaporating kind of way.  It’s sad, and disappointing and once in a while, hard.

DSC_1713-001I had this one friend I met through our parents.  It was like an instant kinship.  For years we were inseparable. We lived close to each other and she was the girlfriend you connected with every day.  But she is one of those people who for good or bad, fades in and out of people’s lives. I noticed that about her when she was planning her wedding.  After her wedding, she evaporated on me for the first time. That lasted a few years.  There was no fight, there was no explanation. It just was. And it was hard, and it hurt.

Then one day she was back. Just back and we picked up the strings of friendship like no time had elapsed. We shared a lot more together. But I never had a defining answer as to why she disappeared out of my life.  And in that particular lack of friend heart to heart, I knew if it happened again I would probably just be done. Not in a mean way. Just as in this isn’t working for me kind of way.

We did so much together.  We lived around the corner from one and other for many years.  I could literally walk out of my door and be having coffee in her kitchen in less than two minutes.

Then I moved. The irony is she was one of the biggest champions of my moving my life out here to be with my sweet man.  And out of all of my friends I swear she wanted to see me “settled” more so than even my own mother. This is my friend who thought it was fun to just try on wedding dresses even if you had no plans in that direction.

The evaporation this time was over time.  Too busy to return calls, making excuses for why we couldn’t get together.   She is also my friend who I feel has been swallowed by the born again Christian of it all.

All of a sudden there was no time to hang out, but she went to all these bible study and religious based events.  Even road trips to bible conferences for lack of a better description.  She wanted the balance she seemed to get out of religious involvement, so I tried not to judge. Religion filled up her empty spaces.  All of a sudden her hours were filled by all of these new people a lot of us didn’t know and hadn’t met.  Did I think it made her happy?  To this day I am not sure. I am only sure that she was trying to make herself happy, and you can’t fault another human being for that.

The last time we had an actual conversation was last spring.  Before her child’s birthday, which precedes my own birthday.  She was asking me questions about what she should do for the child’s  upcoming birthday and who she was inviting to the party.  It was one of those conversations when you find yourself calming listening and feeling almost not so nice inside.

My issue with this conversation was simple: she and her child and her husband had been part of the last two birthday parties of my child.  She is a person who stores a lot by the manners of others, and yet, although my child didn’t care nor miss birthday parties they had never known had happened, I missed those parties for them.  If that makes sense. That really irritated me so when I got off the phone I thought to myself I needed a little break.  Because other conversations had contained things I didn’t get.   Only after that I never heard from her again.

As time has passed I have made peace for the most part with acceptance that she was just one of those people you meet who has a finite presence in your life and then it’s over.  But once in a while I will see something or hear something and think I would like to tell her and then I remember she isn’t part of my life any more. And that at times is like ripping the scab off an old wound.  And then the feeling passes. And as time passes, it gets easier and easier. In a sense as you get older you just recognize the transient nature of some people. It’s not a good or bad feeling, it is just a sort of bittersweet it-just-is part of life.

DSC_1564I recently saw her in a couple of photos of some party someone else I know attended. For the first time I felt sort of detached looking at the photos.  We had some great times together, but now she has her life and I have mine. The one thing I noticed in the photos is her smile is different.  Her smile used to light her whole being up. It would reach her eyes if that made sense. Now it is just more of a smile for the camera.

I hope she is happy.  I know I am happy. And I know what happy is now. I didn’t really know what happy was before, even if I wasn’t unhappy per se.  I guess more than anything I was less complete if that makes sense.

It’s one of those life puzzles.  You have to be able to grow to be happy, but when you grow you find at times that not everyone makes the same journey with you.  And you also have to learn to more accepting  and forgiving of yourself as a human being to begin to attain adult happiness.

Well this brings another rambling stream of consciousness to a close.  Do I post this? I don’t see why not.  After all, part of being human is being able to talk about things.

Life is a journey.  A journey is an evolution.  Life is also precious.  Don’t waste it.  Find your happy.