“Happy” is a Rocky Road

There is a prevailing idea that we should be happy all the time. That we have a right to it. That if we aren’t happy, something is wrong. We aren’t living right. In fact, the universe may possibly be against us.

Collage on mixed-media paper: Monsoon Papers, handmade vegetable paper, glue.

Collage on mixed-media paper: Monsoon Papers, handmade vegetable paper, glue.

The American Constitution guarantees us the pursuit of happiness, but not happiness itself. There are going to be bad days. Very bad days. Unfair days. Two days after the dishwasher and washing machine both revolted, the pool pump had it’s Spring check-up.  The service-provider showed up, fiddled with the pump timing and was about to leave when I mentioned that my preference is for the pump to run at night, when I pay less for electricity.

He was pretty condescending, both about my desire to save money and my inability to know how to change the complicated timing mechanism. Wanting to keep peace more than wanting to be right, I paid him and watched him leave. Two hours later, while I was reading the instructions on how to change the timing, the pump stopped. I could not start it again. That was three days ago. The pool is now green–and green pools are not usable. No one would come out over the weekend, and it will be three to five days after someone does show up before the pool is clean enough to use.

Frustrated and angry, I began to brood over how unfair this all is. It is not what I had imagined the first 100-degree weekend would be. And while I was cranky, I muttered, “Why does this always have to happen to me?” Ahhh, how soon I forget.

Yes, this has been a run of expensive bad luck. But it’s not a sign of impending doom. In fact, quite a few things have gone well in the same time.

The tree trimmer never showed up, but now the huge Palo Verdes will shade the kitchen and family room, making it easier for the air conditioning to cool the rooms.

The point is, I realized that the world is neither fair nor unfair. It just is. And my time is better spent looking at what is working well, what is fueling my pursuit of happiness.

Being grumpy and cranky engenders more proof of how unfair life is.  The more time I spend being unhappy, the less time I have to be satisfied. If I spend some time looking for things to be happy about, I’ll find and enjoy them and make it a habit to enjoy what is working out. And all things in balance, I’d rather enjoy the things that worked this weekend.

—Quinn McDonald knows that “this too shall pass” refers to both bad and good events. Everything passes. How she takes it is up to her.


30 thoughts on ““Happy” is a Rocky Road

  1. I learnt how my mood/tiredness affected the way I saw situations when my daughter was about 4 and quite … how can I say this in a polite way … clumsy. Yes, let´s say clumsy. Under the same set of circumstances I could squint and hiss (not proud, I got immensely better) or wipe everything down/up and comfort her.

  2. Yep–seems that the answer to ‘why me?’ is, ‘it’s your turn,’ right now. Though a serviceperson who comes out and doesn’t render service as asked seems to deserve not to get paid for that service call! Our septic sprays off at night and one time the serviceperson accidentally reset 2am to 2pm–not what we really wanted, thanks! But it got fixed eventually and, after a few more things broke elsewhere, we seem to have settled down to a usual existence again. Hope you get back to ordinary again. In the meantime, I guess enjoy your green backyard!

  3. I hear ya. I got fired last week right out of the blue and then I received an email saying that a cheesecake from the school I was subbing at, arrived and was told I could pick it up. Really, they expect me to show up. couldn’t believe how appalled and somewhat angry I got. I know things will get better and reading what you wrote really hit me hard – in a good way. Thanks for sharing this with us,

  4. Wow, I needed this today (and yesterday and the day before)! I hope things turn around soon…for both of us.

  5. So much truth in your post and all the comments:
    “The world is neither fair nor unfair. It just is” and “every day above ground is worth living” whether everything is falling apart in your household, your body aches or all the people around you getting worse every day (my case too) we have to live in the moment and look at the good things we have.
    I think your collages fabulous too and am glad that you found your way!

  6. I can only hope to learn from all the ups – downs and in-betweens that I have been experiencing lately! Loving your posts.

  7. Around my house it’s not the mechanical things that are falling apart. It’s the people! Seems at every front I’m running somebody to the doctor or hospital.
    Good and bad, high and low…one without the other isn’t as sweet or sour. It’s finding the balance within ourselves that makes life worth living.
    Having said that…I hope things change soon around your house, Quinn. It sounds like it’s time for it.

  8. Even though the equipment in your life seems to be very uncooperative these days I must say the collages you are doing Quinn are absolutely beautiful! I find my gratitude journal generally helps me keep the bad/difficult times in perspective because there always always always are things to be grateful for!

    • Ahhh, Lynn, I am finally doing the collages I want. It took two years and several courses and a lot of stops and starts to develop what is working for me. And yes, I’m teaching collage at Frenzy Stamper on August 9.

  9. Love it or leave it , right. Your post today is really true , hard to do sometimes, but truly the best way. I enjoy your posts. Thank you.

    • Almost every free-standing house in Phoenix has a pool. It costs you more to have a house built in a development and NOT get a pool. With 322 sunny days and more than 100 days each year over 100 degrees (38 degrees C), (and 30 over 110 degrees) it’s a wonderful thing to have–although they are a lot of work. And yes, they do require water in a water-starved environment, but I am careful with my water. Each morning, when I turn on the shower, I save the cold water that runs before it warms up and toss it into the pool. We have no lawn, and the plants we do have get drip-irrigation. Water stays in a pool for three years with careful use.

  10. Yes, the last choice left open to us sometimes is how we think about what happens around us. Sometimes we can only think “it’s shitty but I’m actually okay.” I consider myself privileged even with what I’ve experienced . . . what I have seen in places like Tibet and India would perhaps crush me.

  11. I was just about to complain about my regular headache session coming up just as I’ll have 4 days alone and quiet to immerse myself in painting. I guess I’ll just shut up, LOL. At least it will also be overcast so the glare won’t make it worse!!

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