It’s been about a year ago now since I sat and chatted with a very dear friend. We were discussing life and living and our views thereof. She had done a fair share of living in her 90 plus years. Life was a subject she was well versed in.
She treasured the many fond memories of her precious life experiences. She especially treasured her husband. He had passed on before her. The bond between them was still ever so strong. They were “sealed” to each other, she told me.
We talked freely about life and death. She was ready and quite prepared to exit this life. And exit she did, shortly thereafter. She slipped away softly and quietly like a gentle breeze in the afternoon.
Within that conversation, the subject of happiness came up. I asked my friend where she thought happiness came from. She looked at me with a big smile, and after a short pause replied: “From your heart.”
She was right, of course. Love and human kindness, our most precious attributes of personal identity — they spring from the same source.
It seems to me that we instinctively know this and it is very real to us as kids. But we so often drift away from this knowledge in our rough and tumble adult years. And for some fortunate souls, this truth comes back with age. It greatly helps to brighten one’s days as he or she mellows with the years.
My grandparents have passed and gone these many years now. This lady was the closest I’ve known to a sweet, loving, perfect grandma.
There was a realization which occurred to me quite some time ago, and I’m reminded of it more so as of late. There is a wellspring of goodness in each and every one of us.
On the rare occasion that you see someone with a glow about him or her; I don’t think that this is an illusion. If you see that person as pure, good and truly beautiful, well, that is excellent. You are getting a glimpse of him or her as they really are. You are penetrating the protective barriers we erect around ourselves throughout our lives. You’re seeing through defense mechanisms, attitudes, hostilities and all the shields we hide behind.
What came to me also in that realization is that this beautiful radiant being is the true essence of the individual himself or herself. Not only that, but if you really see anyone else, and I mean anyone, you will observe the same phenomenon.
You may experience this insight in the height of romantic love when your partner looks just ideal and magnificent. It’s easy to see in the bright eyes and smiling faces of children as their abundance of joy just bursts out at you. You may, if you’re lucky, share it with family members. It’s there at the airport with hugs, kisses and tears of heartfelt greetings and sad farewells.
It appears to grow dull and fade with the hard knocks, disappointments and losses accumulated during a lifetime. Hopes and dreams gone by the wayside bring on the darkness. And without dreams, one’s light of life grows dim.
But through it all, it’s still there. Even if hidden away as though in a locked vault. It’s still there. You can sense it in smiles and hugs and gentle gestures of kindness. It’s our better nature. It’s our true nature.
Once you become aware of it, you seem to rediscover a feeling of childhood joyful bliss. Its lovely indeed. So much so, perhaps you should let it flow out gently so as not to overwhelm those around you.
Sorry, dear reader. I know you may think I’ve got it bad. “He’s gone soft. He’s losing it,” you may say. What would my biker pals and the boys down at the union hall think of all this?
So in next week’s issue I’ll try to write about politics, conflict and impending doom!
But I would like to conclude with this question for you: Where do you think happiness, kindness, love and joy really come from?
Dan O’Connor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.