Happiness… not in another place, but in this place, not for another hour, but this hour… Walt Whitman
This is the quote that I chose for my son’s and his fiancee’s wedding shower. It was joyfully attended by over seventy friends and family, spanning eighty-eight years, from my father-in-law who turned ninety last week to an adorable set of triplets. The quote was framed and placed at each table setting, and, for me, Walt Whitman’s words reflect the choice that we are faced with on a daily, if not hourly basis. Choose happiness. It was easy that night; there were those present who had held my son during his first few hours of life, and those individuals and families he has befriended, shared grammar school through university life, served at The Painted Turtle with, and worked with over the years. His beautiful fiancé and many of her lovely family members shared the event. It was easy to choose happiness that eve.
However, as I was experiencing this joyous process, concurrently, in my thoughts were many of the individuals and families that make up my practice. The trials, losses, and challenges they face, make it much harder to choose happiness. My interaction with them makes me acutely aware of the precariousness of human life, the fleetingness of health, and that security in life comes from befriending the chaos we all will, at some point, experience.
In spite of their daunting circumstance, I work with people choosing happiness in the present moment. Often, I am unsure whether I could bear the challenges many of my clients have faced. I regularly feel honored to be in their presence and witness the courage it can take to choose happiness, even for a brief moment, as they dance between the rain drops.