Acceptance of What Is

We were sitting in the cafe we usually sit in. He was sipping his medium iced coffee and reading the latest updates of whatever it was on his phone. He looked up at me, “You ever read cracked.com?”

I looked up from my phone. “Sometimes.”

“There’s an interesting article on happiness.” He said. “I’ll read it to you.” And he began.

Listening, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of immense gratitude flood me. Here we were: sipping our drink of choice, on a leisurely afternoon in the middle of the week, whilst reading a freely written article on our expensive smart phones. We are not married, we’re college educated, and neither one of us has any serious commitment to anything. The article went in to detail about how Happiness is not a destination, but a state of being that one goes in and out of. It is a place that one visits on occasion, but can’t fully exist in all the time. There is no “When I do this, I will live happily ever after” because there is no happily ever after.  The article also went on to talk about how attachment to material things was in fact the quickest road to unhappiness as the immediate effect of having something new and shiny is rubbed away the minute that new thing is dented, scratched, or replaced by a newer model. Happiness is found more in experiences and anticipation than anything else.

I thought to the wallet and expensive sunglasses that were recently stolen from me. I had spent two hours at the DMV yesterday getting the replacement Drivers License, but honestly: it was all stuff in the end, no? I got my credit cards in the mail and cancelled all my other ones. Now, a week later, my old wallet is gone, but I’ve replaced everything in it: so no big deal.

My boyfriend kept reading. I listened to his voice as I looked out the window and watched Astoria walk past. The sky was cloudy with what looked like rain and I felt totally comfortable on my stool fingering my now empty plastic cup.

I thought to last night when I spent the evening with friends I hadn’t seen in months. We were catching up, chatting about what our lives were like, cheering for our successes and laughing empathetically about our failures. This group of twenty-something people collectively nibbling fresh food, drinking red wine, and openly showing affection for each other despite being male or female or black or white or American or not. I thought to how lucky we all were, and how so many people are not. Is that happiness? To know what could be and what is?

I briefly thought to the wallet I lost and the sunglasses that are on someone else’s head. My thoughts were interrupted by my boyfriend finishing the article. “So I guess the best thing is to spend time with people you love and to help others.” He said. I nodded. Coming back to the present moment.

“I love you.” I said. Smiling.

He leaned in and kissed me. “I love you, too.”

We got up and left, throwing away our cups and walking hand in hand. Life is good.

August 9, 2013 at 8:03 pm by Natalie Allen