Golden Moments

18 Mar

Last night, as I was dragging the compost bin down to the end of the driveway for today’s collection, I paused and smiled at nothing in particular. Just because I was feeling so happy.  I love Monday nights; Mondays mean Big Band rehearsals and greasy food and laughter.  Yesterday’s rehearsal was particularly energizing because I managed to face down a number of challenging pieces I’d been worrying about.  I get a huge high out of singing anyway, but there’s no feeling like “getting” something you’ve been working at.  In moments like that, it doesn’t matter how many loads of laundry are left to be done.  Moments like that should be savoured.

It’s not every day I get to have that “all is right with the world” feeling, but I try to appreciate the small joys that do happen every day.  This may sound very capitalistic, not to mention fanciful — Hey, I am a business major. And a romantic. — but I’ve recently started thinking of those small moments of joy as, well, as gold.  And I’m interested in collecting as many as possible.

I don’t think I’m a naturally optimistic person; it’s more something I’ve learned and that I have to remind myself to do.  When my dad left the world of employment to work for himself, he had a lot of motivational training and sales training that emphasized the power of positive thinking.  It was a message he brought home that we all took to heart; I think a lot of my German friends still think of “Denk positiv!” (think positive) as my catch-phrase.

I don’t use the phrase much these days because out of the context of earnest high school philosophical discussions, it can sound preachy and trite.  Certainly, when I was told, “Just don’t worry” before my miscarriage, I was pretty annoyed at that friend for shutting down our conversation by dismissing my concerns.  “Just think positive” would have had the same effect in that context.

But if the pursuit of happiness is the ultimate goal, an optimistic outlook seems to me the best way to wring as much joy as possible out of each day.  And even if you don’t agree that happiness is the ultimate goal, who thinks they can do with less joy in their lives?

I’m not saying that happiness is the only important thing in life.  I’m also not saying I don’t get upset or depressed.  I’ve had some really rough patches that I’m sure would have resulted in going on anti-depressants had I thought to get “outside help”.  I know what it’s like to sink into a place where you don’t have the energy to do anything, even if you know it’ll do you good.  In those times, it’s pretty close to impossible to find those golden moments, and it might take someone else’s love and encouragement, someone else who can see the positives, to help you claw your way out of that pit.

But for “normal” stresses of “normal” life, it’s these golden moments that keep me afloat, that lift me out of the every day and give me a chance to breathe.  They don’t have to be spectacular: admiring the sparkles in the snow, a joke shared between friends, laughing at the prancing of an excited dog, noticing someone giving their all to a job.  If I pause to really appreciate those little moments, I get to have a moment of happiness that otherwise would have been squandered.  And wouldn’t that be a shame?

And then, for nights like last night where everything was momentarily right with the world?  Well, that’s just like hitting the jackpot.

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