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Saturday, November 8, 2008

Happiness Is Leading a Triple-Life! -- Credo XVI

There are two secrets to human happiness.
1) To be happy, count your blessings.
2) Happiness consists simply in knowing when you are happy.
So often we look back and think how happy I was then or look forward to if only I could be happy again ... ("if only" is one of those abysses. Don’t go there!) When this stupendous realization came upon me—ahem—I ran it by my darling Polar Bear, who took it upon himself to start saying out of the blue, “Know what? I’m happy!” followed by a hug, and I did likewise. Happiness is an ego expression of joy. The triple-life involves three stages: happiness, joy, and bliss.

Happiness hides in the NOW of little things. I promised to share a few nutty ones as examples which I have discovered increasingly in old age and being handicapped, etc. But it all began many years ago, probably with my mother, who in her old age raced the upstairs toilet paper with the downstairs and remarked to the visiting plumber coming out of the loo, “Oh, you won the sweepstakes!”

For me it is a kind of classical animism. When we were married in 1980, I bought two brown plastic garbage pails to hold the ice at the reception. They looked like two monks, so I called the one in our kitchen Brother Lawrence and the other Brother Juniper. Brother Lawrence was a lay monk in Paris in the 1600’s and wrote a small volume called THE PRACTICE OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD, a series of letters to an aspiring novice. In it he explained that he felt closest to God among the pots and pans in the monastery kitchen! It is a charming little book and has endeared his presence now in my kitchen - I take time when I renew his plastic underwear to marvel how 400 yrs later his wisdom and good humor still live on and irradiate my own kitchen.

Brother Juniper, patron saint of gardens, holds the birdseed.

I have a set of bath towels with animals upstairs that we bought for the grandchildren to use when they visited here. Whenever I rotate them into use I have to use a particular facecloth with flowers on it which then I can call flora and fauna!

We have a freezer called Niflheim in honor of the Norse myth of creation: The world was covered with ice and a celestial cow (Age of Taurus?) licked the first man and woman out of it, proved by the cowlick every baby is born with! Every family member calls it Niflheim. The icebox is the Igloo. Tivoli is the name of the downstairs "powder room," so called because the wallpaper features toy soldiers and ballerinas. In Copenhagen there are still the Tivoli Gardens, a nineteenth-century ancestor of a miniature Disneyland with uniformed toy soldiers, and the Royal Ballet of Denmark is famous. I keep this wallpaper, to Beth’s yuck, because clients coming from afar are sometimes apprehensive about having their chart read, etc. They usually are amused and comforted by the humor.
Everything in my living room contains a memory, an association, a classical or historical allusion, and becomes a source of poignancy, historical speculation, or happiness.

So the first layer of happiness for me is in little things. They connect me inevitably to the bigger things they embody.

I would love to hear that I am not the only nutcase among us!

lovingly,
ao

Imagine my delight in finding out that Jung named his pots and pans! And wrote of “die Tuecke des Objekts”—the mischief of objects. It never pays to cuss a "thing" that won’t work ... and I believe I have written already of Chuang Tzu and the raccoons. If not, let me know!

1 comment:

ruth said...

this naming makes me smile ... i've always liked to name things .. but unlike your lovely well based (literary or historic) names my are simply self serving pleasure giving 'made up' words --

... One object, however, my car, Orangella, is so named as she is a coach .. meant to carry a princess .. and those with whom the princess travels .. - and she is - of course - bright orange! - a happy and bright color! --
;0) thank you for smiles and thoughts -