Monday, November 17, 2014

Is This What Happy Feels Like?

The other day I found myself dancing in the kitchen like Ginger Rogers without Fred Astaire while cookies baked in the oven and turkey stuffing was cooling in a bowl on the counter.
Let me go back about two hours.

I was tidying up in the kitchen after breakfast and getting out the supplies I needed to make a turkey stuffing that was my contribution to our church's pot luck Thanksgiving meal on Sunday. This batch would be baked in the oven outside of the turkey which was being provided by someone else. As I passed the kitchen window I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye; something white was flying around outside. Since it was a brilliantly sunny morning, I figured it wasn't snow. I went over to the window to take a peek and saw ... sea gulls, hundreds of sea gulls, landing in the farmer's field next door. I grabbed my jacket and headed outside.

The wind was whipping around something fierce out there and the brilliant blue morning was quickly turning into a freezing wind and a promise of bad weather to come. I reasoned that the gulls had come inland because they knew more than we did about the change coming in the weather. I could hear the frenzied honking of the geese on the pond beyond the field letting our visitors know in no uncertain terms that the pond was already taken, thank you, and there was no room in the neighborhood for new comers! Despite the cold, I stayed a while to watch the gulls dig around in the field  until they had picked it clean, then as if on cue, they took off like a giant blanket of white and headed for the opposite hill where the remnants of the blueberry bushes and surrounding fields offered the possibility of a snack.

I went back inside where it was nice and warm, and continued working on my stuffing. Something made me go and get my laptop where I clicked into Pandora and brought up a jazz station. As the stuffing cooked I got the sudden idea to bake vanilla drop cookies. For those of you who know that the cooking gene skipped me and went on to my sister, daughter and granddaughter (an example of which were slice and bake cookies that somehow came out so hard the NHL could have used them for pucks), the sudden desire to bake could only have been planted there by some unknown source - either God or aliens.
I measured and poured, scrapped and beat, and before you could say Betty Crocker, two cookie sheets were in the oven filling the apartment with the most wonderful smell ... and I started dancing. It was Count Basie and Ella Fitzgerald doing Cheek to Cheek. Look out Ginger, her comes Barb. In the middle of what I thought was some pretty fancy footwork (I absolutely loved ballroom dancing when I was young), it suddenly hit me: is this what happy feels like?

What does it say about how we live our lives if we have to ask ourselves that question? We are so busy searching for happiness that we miss out on those moments when happiness is right at our fingertips. Had I been so wrapped up in the move to the new place, and the unpaid bills sitting on my desk, and stressing out about the upcoming holidays that weren't even here yet, that I was missing out on all the really good stuff in my life that was happening right here, right now? Happiness is an inside job, and if we don't occasionally go to the window of the soul and look out, we just might miss the sea gulls, and the geese, and the pond, and the blueberry bushes, and our true, authentic lives. Of course, being a jazz fan, I like to think that the Count and Ella contributed a lot, too.

And just to let you know, the cookies came out just fine! Yum!

And so it is.