“You need to try to master the ability to feel sad without actually being sad.” — Mingyur Rinpoche
I have never liked the word happy. I have always felt it did not leave room for sad, that happy was somehow superior to sad. I got the subtle message that happy girls were preferable to sad girls. Happy, smiling girls made people feel good. Sad girls brought the room down.
So, when asked if I was happy, I felt obliged to go into a long dissertation about the transitory nature of happy.
And, yet, here I am in Happy Valley.Our first morning in our new home on Happy Valley Road, as Tessa and I crunched our way across the frost covered front yard to get the New York Times from the mailbox, I heard the soft mooing of a cow and cocky crow of a rooster drifting our way from the farm across the road. The early morning sky was brilliant blue, the way blue shows up when the air is crisp and cold. The snow-dusted mountains, creators of the valley, were sentinels in the background.
I don’t think I have ever regretted my life. Or wished I had another. Or envied the life someone else had or has. I have felt imperfect that I was not the happy ray of sunshine that banished sorrow and pain from the world. Along with that was my warrior-like insistence that I was entitled to my happy-impaired moments.
I happened upon Laurie Anderson’s Farewell to Lou Reed in Rolling Stone this morning. “I believe that the purpose of death,” she writes, “is the release of love.”
I think she mastered feeling sad, without being sad.
So, maybe, the same can be said about happy.
After he loses a daughter to drugs, a recovering country singer played by Robert Duvall in the movie Tender Mercies says he doesn’t trust happiness, never has.
Perhaps we, I, need to master the ability to feel happy without being happy. It’s a state of being, not a stasis of being.
So, here I am in Happy Valley. It feels like home. It embraces the life sounds of a mooing cow and the cocky crow of a rooster as well as The New York Times.
It is life.
I can say that I feel happy with life. I feel happy with my life.
I live in Happy Valley.