It creeps up on you, Happiness, it taps you on the shoulder and catches you by surprise. Especially when you haven’t seen it for a while, when you’ve forgotten what it looks like, what its company feels like.
At first, it arrives solo, but more often lately, it arrives with its best friend, Hope. That feels good.
It’s been so long since I met Happiness and even longer since Hope came along for the ride; every event, every thought, every moment since that day in March 2016 having being underlaid with a dark, sticky, malodorous carpet of pain and despair.
Much younger, in the 70’s and 80’s I used to meet Happiness on a regular basis, coming around unexpected corners. Hope was also a constant companion (even when young and things were often confusing and difficult).
Anything could trigger a sighting off in those days. You just expected them both to be around regularly.
Cycling through a crisp September morning looking at a clear blue sky filled with fluffy white clouds, being surrounded by friends or family, playing Monopoly on a Saturday with a Vesta Chow Mein dinner expected, setting off on a trip somewhere new with Nan & Grandad, finishing a great book where you knew the author had written a whole series to look forward to. Starting a new job which might just be the one. Ditto boys.
As life went on, wearing into the 90’s they made more infrequent appearances (but somehow more intense for that) such as when we started a new record label, having fun at a friends’ wedding or my own, the after party for ours on the longest day of the year, the birth of our two amazing, unexpected children – Phoebe then Nelson, the discovery of personal development and 100% responsibility, the achievement of business challenges, live speaking gigs, the publishing of a book (then five), a holiday or two. Buying and selling houses, then a new, unexpected (and sometimes most challenging) love slowly blooming.
But they’ve both been awfully, dreadfully, painfully noticeable by their absence since March 12th, 2016 and I really thought they had abandoned me for good. So, Life was to be a series of dreary, trudging steps through to the end, pretending to myself and everyone else that I was fine, I was ok, I was “getting better”.
Then one day in April 2017, on a sunbed in Stoupa, looking out over the sparkling sea, I looked around and there they both were – back together and back with me. Just a glimpse, that day, but a welcome one.
As the sunny days went by, they turned up more and more often, their visits coming closer and closer together, look! there they are again!
Collecting sea glass with Irene in Sunderland, shopping for linen in Marks & Spencer, getting on a plane to Brisbane, looking out over a crowd of eager Aussie Entrepreneurs, a great filet mignon with a fine wine, sitting in the sunny garden of The Bridge in Shoreham with Phoebe, Nelson and Irving, having dinner with Jane in Chipping Norton, floating in the clear blue Greek ocean, gazing out on a Stoupa sunset from a taverna table, turning on Netflix to watch a new, much looked forward to series.
Happiness & Hope, that attractive, elusive pair, holding hands and smiling at me, settling in, getting comfy with keeping me company again.
And now, knowing that they both always come back after a while, after the darkest days, well that is a strengthening thought indeed.
Because I know there’ll be other times when they both go away for a time, I know that of Life now.
But not yet, not yet.
Let me enjoy their company in this moment. Let me savour it and store it up.