Saturday, September 17, 2011

Happiness is The Old Magic

One has to start somewhere after a blog absence of over a month (or even of a day), so I will start with happiness and with these lines by Jane Kenyon, who is one of my favorite poets.

"There’s just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away."

Kenyon suffered from bouts of serious depression and that certainly colored her view of happiness as a prodigal returning home at last. I can relate to the prodigal returning image. The appearance of happiness sometimes feel like that.

This morning I'm musing about what makes me happy. I find pleasure and happiness in creating beauty. This vista at my kitchen window gives me an inner smile. I feel happy looking at this beautiful image taken one day in late summer at the Umpqua River on a beautiful summer day with dear Frannie and her family. Nature makes me very happy. It's rejuvenating and endlessly fascinating. Meditating makes me very happy. Dancing, gardening, cooking, singing and writing make me happy. Being with good friends makes me happy. Helping others with healing work makes me happy. I generally feel happier now that I did earlier in life. People say that happens as we age. It's paradoxical. Is it the keen edge of mortality? Is it letting go of many things that troubled us when young? Is it slowing down and enjoying the moments more fully? Seems to me it's all of those elements. Humans have an innate capacity for happiness and contentment no matter what the circumstances. Pursuing happiness sounds terribly tiring but I like relaxing into it. It's always there in the awareness of the present moment. Drinking the coffee. A hummingbird zooms past the window. The leaves on the birch tree twinkle in the breeze. Oh my, summer is nearly over already.

We are headed into the season of harvest. Today I head over to Dave Scoggin's studio again to lie on the couch as a very interested but musically unschooled observer while my composer colleague Laura Rich and Dave continue their fascinating work to mix the song tracks for the promo CD for A New Wrinkle, our musical revue about aging.

This beautiful photo of Jonnie Z is one of a series that photographer Helga Motley took. One of those images will grace the CD jacket very soon. Yes, that CD project will come to completion.

Tomorrow I will host the first Sage's Play salon of 2011. I did not do very marvelous publicity for it, and so I have no idea who will show up for it. The topic is "Is Aging a Terrible Disease or a Valuable Stage of Life? The salons are a way for elders to talk about how they think and feel about aging and will naturally support a more vigorous community of elders. This is a flyer that Christer Rowan designed for Sage's Play's fall programs.

It's rewarding to move forward with these projects and to see them come to a successful conclusion. Even if not many people show up tomorrow for the salon, I have the opportunity to do a better job next time.

And today my essay on The Healing Power of Memoir and Life Review appears in Inner Peace column of the Daily Tidings, Ashland's paper. I am going to be offering a on-day workshop on that topic on October 16th.

It is satisfying to harvest--whether it's creative projects or garden bounty. After seeding, cultivating and nurturing for months, there's a lot of pleasure from reaping the bounty. Hope that your harvest, whether inner or outer, is a beautiful one.


  1. From my twisted medical perspective, life is a progressively terminal disease we catch at birth. A better way to look at this aging thing, however, is the saying, "We are born, we die; and in between we laugh, we cry." I would like to think that the laughter is about choices leading to happiness, and the crying gives us wisdom to make those choices. I'm laughing today because last night my girlfriend's Wii calculated my biological age as 35 instead of 64. Love to all . . .

  2. Thanks for the real Mike Zanoni perspective on this. Yes, your biological age is definitely younger than your chronological and that is cause for laughter. Big hugs.

  3. Gaea -- to know happiness is a comparative quality -- set against anger, sadness, joy, and other deep emotions. Without experiencing these other emotions we would not know what happiness is. So we need to encompass them all with our mature outlook as we age. And, I believe aging has given us deep emotions throughout our life and therefore we are old hands at dealing with them resulting in a more relaxed way of living. -- barbara