‘Aunty, are you happy?’
I can’t remember the first time my 3-year old niece asked me that. All I remember is how it took me down the rabbit hole of what happiness is and all the things I needed to make me feel happy. (Hmmm, like a good vacation, or maybe some massage, ah yes lots of money, or maybe some extra fries… the list goes on of the possible things that can make me happy).
Over the months of her asking me that question, I’ve come to understand that she’s not trying to spur an existential crisis. All she’s trying to find out is that right at the moment when she’s standing in front of me, giggling or playing, am I happy (as happy as she is)?
I love watching my sister’s kids, they’re so delightful! My niece in particular knows how to make her own batch of happiness portion without anyone’s help. She pushes the limits, and does cartwheels really close to the edge of the wooden table until someone screams ‘don’t!!!’ I like how she’s not limited or confined by society’s expectations. If there’s nothing interesting on the TV, she picks an interest in syrup caps and begins to stack them to build a tower. She spins till she’s dizzy, laughs until her dimples dig right in, and loves without a care as to your tribe, skin color or societal status. She lives in the moment and notices what’s right there in front of us.
Kids have a sense of seeing what’s right there- not the future, not the bills stacked on the table. No, all they see is the fact that you’re right there in front of them, happy or sad.
Sometimes we skip what’s right there in front of us and go searching for things that keep eluding us. It’s like we want to make money so bad, that we fail to notice how we’ve always had food to eat no matter how broke we’ve claimed to be. We miss out on the color of the sun while it’s setting in the evenings. Or the fact that the moon was a crescent last night. There are blessings right there in front of us, if only we would focus on it. Truth is you can create magical moments even from the most mundane things!
‘Are you happy?’
Well, I’m still not sure what the answer is, but what I’m learning to do is to appreciate what’s right there in front of me. I may not have all the things I think would make me happier, but I have so much to be grateful for. And I’m surrounded by such love and warmth in the eyes of a child that I wonder who wouldn’t be happy for that?! (I know I am!)
So dearest friend, sometimes you’ve gotta pause and see what’s right in front of you.
I see you.❤️
Lots of love,