It was 5am on a cold dark morning when headlights sliced through my curtains to play bright light against my bedroom walls.
What the … ?
It was my buddy on an airport run.
Earlier in the week his first text asked if I could take him at 545am.
I replied “no problem” and set my alarm.
A while later another text said, “can you do 530?”
I replied “no problem” and set my alarm 20 minutes earlier.
The morning of his flight, it's 5am as I wake from a groggy slumber and stumble out of bed, reach for some clothes and drive him to the airport.
When I got to the car he told me he had stayed awake all night in case he missed his morning alarm.
That would explain the early morning wakeup call I thought to myself.
As the headlights of his BMW coupe cut through the morning fog, I asked him how he was doing.
He said he didn’t feel like he was happy, that he wasn’t able to create lasting happiness and this holiday was just another attempt to reveal where happiness might be hiding.
I said that I didn’t believe the purpose of life was to be happy, but that the purpose of life is to grow.
If we are using the compost that life sometimes delivers our way to make us better people, then even in moments of unhappiness, we can find purpose.
Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist who survived a concentration camp, wrote that “happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue.”
I think that means that if we pursue happiness as a goal we are probably going to discover that it doesn't last.
But if we live our lives with openness, compassion and a sense of humor, just like a rose seed growing out of a pile of compost, there will be seasons when happiness will bloom.
Then we can enjoy feeling lost gazing deeply into the petals of a rich, red rose and inhaling it's exquisite scent - made all the sweeter because we know it's only for a moment and soon the flower will pass and its petals will fall to the ground.
But if we stick with our garden and keep watering it with patience and faith, the rose petals that fall became compost for seeds that become tiny seedlings that will one day grow, rise and bloom ...
This is like happiness; if we appreciate it while it's here but not try to force it every moment, or hold on to it to tightly, it is free to come and go, ebb and flow.
But if we're always chasing after other flowers and looking over the fence with envious eyes at our neighbor’s garden, we will miss the opportunity to be truly present when our roses bloom.
“Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.”
Henry David Thoreau
And it's important to remember that every rose has its thorn – just as every blessing comes with a loss.
So when we're fantasizing about a time when our life will be better - different – new and improved, we should remember to enjoy the present.
When we're single, we dream about being in a relationship.
Then when we're in a relationship, we remember fondly when we were single and could do whatever we liked whenever we wanted to.
When we don't have children, we imagine being parents, then when we are parents, we long for a weekend sleep in!
My buddy with the BMW says some pretty wise things, watching his plane climb up into the early morning sun, I thought of something he said once about letting happiness come and go that would be perfect advice for him right now:
“Hold the things you love lightly.”
Bon voyage buddy.
If this post has got you thinking about the blessings in your life, here's an inspiring little life coach tool!
wishing you the best of days,