Thursday, August 1, 2013

Don't Let Go!

There I am showing off a very
70's towel I gave my dad as a gift
Do you consider yourself to be a happy person?  Is happiness something you feel often, or does it elude you?  Some friends and I were talking about happiness and I was surprised at the responses.  Some felt fearful of being happy; like once you "achieved happiness" it was then something you had to live up to, or an unobtainable level in the game of life.  Another shared that happiness is overrated and that happy people must be covering up for pain they really feel underneath.  Still another considered herself to be happy because she makes a choice to be happy.  When I began to share my own thoughts, a memory catapulted its way to the forefront of my mind.  Words spoke from me that I was not expecting to share.  I'm sharing it again here.

Growing up, we vacationed each summer on Lake Cumberland, Kentucky.  It's the most serene place I have been.  Lake Cumberland is 700 feet deep and boasts a beautiful wooded shoreline. The summer when I was 5 my dad taught me to water ski.  He purchased a pair of red youth-sized skis.  He worked on a system of small white ropes that held the skis parallel once the skier was wearing them.  I remember being in the water with him.  I was sitting in the water with my feet squished into the rubber boot part of the skis, the tips of the skis peaking out of the water.  My life vest was riding up from the push of the lake water and pushing against the bottom of my earlobes.  A long ski rope was tied to the back of our boat.  My dad, also in skis, put my hands around the handle of the ski rope and said "whatever you do, don't let go of the rope."  He put his hands over my hands to reinforce that letting go was not an option.  He then hollered to my mom to put the boat in gear.  The boat jerked forward with force pulling me and my skis with it.  It seemed like gallons of water hit me in the face.  I don't recall how many times we went through this before I actually was able to get up on the water, but it was within that first day of trying.  It was scary, but I remember it as victorious and I was happy.  How amazing because it wasn't even what I had set out to share, yet there it of my happiest memories and something that brings me back to happiness.

I don't consider myself a "happy person" by nature.  I will admit my baseline probably falls just shy of a half empty glass many days.  I'm hard on myself and I have to combat that each day (read about that here and also where I find joy by reading this).  Happiness to me isn't a destination, it's a means of travel.  I don't look at happiness as an achievement, but something to seek out.  Happiness is something I work toward.  I don't have to feel it every moment of every day.  I'm learning to look for things that create happiness within me.  It's small things like hot coffee in the morning, fluffy clouds in a summer sky, the sound of my kids laughing together, inside jokes that John and I share that make me laugh year after year, and ALL of the Kid President videos.  It's also bigger things like meaningful conversations with my Gram; marking off 13 years of marriage this year to the love of my life; witnessing the inner strength of my dad; and being a mom. 

What I've learned is that I cannot let go--much like that ski rope.  If I stop trying to seek out happiness chances are I'll stop finding it.  It's just like that verse from the book of Matthew, seek and you will find." I'm grateful for the flooding of that memory and the meaning it has taken in my heart.  Ten gallons of water in the face at 5 years old, was worth the happiness I felt once I was on top of the water.  Like Kid President says, "I want to be on the road that leads to awesome."

Where is your happiness?

 A link to Kid President:

Thanks for reading.