Happiness – delusion or reality?

I don’t cook.

I say that as a shopping bag full of fresh spinach appears in my kitchen. It’s accompanied by vibrant carrots scrubbed clean, and sweet potatoes.

My refrigerator is a college-dorm-sized square box and it’s full. No veggie storage capacity there. I have one option: cook.

An outrageous amount of spinach boils down to three cups. When spooned into a plastic bag it flattens and becomes stack-able. So do carrots and potatoes. Once chopped, steamed, and bagged, there’s just enough space to shove them into the wee freezer compartment of the teeny fridge.

I’ve made a royal mess. Most non-cooks do. When the pots and pans are clean and piled precariously on the dish drainer, it occurs to me I’ve overtaxed that kitchen accessory far beyond it’s capacity to function well. On normal days it more than adequately accommodates my coffee glass and French press.

As I study the teetering pyramid of pots my mind goes philosophical. The haphazard jumble in front of me prompts thoughts of unrelated other things: global warming, over-population, urban sprawl, water pollution, and people who talk too much, think too much, do too much.

Like my little drainer, the earth is being called upon to do what it wasn’t designed to do. People are too. The planet manages it for a while and so do we. But there comes the moment when critical mass is achieved, which, as defined by the Urban Dictionary, is the point when something reaches the threshold of it’s limits. If one more pot is added to the mountain of cookware chances are it will topple.

I used to operate at that level of near-insanity. It seemed normal because everyone around me was doing the same. My blood pressure approached hypertension. My heart fibrillated. Every morning my jaw ached from grinding my teeth. Back then nobody ever told me I glowed with happiness.

I didn’t crack and fall apart but my marriages did. Five times. It wasn’t until I turned sixty-two, took early retirement, and moved to Bali that I saw the off-kilter, out-of-balance craziness I’d deemed normal.

It took months in this relaxed, slow-moving paradise to slow down and allow my nervous system to re-calibrate. But the biggest surprise was discovering what real happiness felt like. I’d been a glass full person, never depressed, always sussing out the positive aspects of whatever setbacks came my way. For sixty-two years I told myself I was happy. Had I known then how painfully far I was from that reality, how deluded and detached — let’s just say it’s a good thing I didn’t!

When my ridiculously small drain rack is doing the job it’s intended to do, it has bandwidth to spare. It can take a stressful event in stride (like my cooking frenzy) and maintain its dignity and calm.

Humans are the same. We need to jump off the hamster wheel, come to a full and complete HALT and take a look at what we’re doing to ourselves and at what price. The abuse is unsustainable. Our earth is at critical mass. So was I. Are you?

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mike2all
    Aug 14, 2018 @ 11:28:26

    Many of your thoughts are mine. The stopping can sometimes bethe easy part. Restarting is what’s difficult as we have to relearn to ‘be’.

    Mike

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. Janet Nelson
    Aug 14, 2018 @ 11:46:37

    Thought-provoking, as always. You would have enjoyed our 50 year reunion. It hardly seems possible. A pleasant chance to chat with people you haven’t thought about in many decades.

    Glad to hear the recent tremors didn’t affect you directly.

    Enjoy your right-sized drain rack life!

    Fondly, Jan

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Aug 14, 2018 @ 12:16:31

      Fifty years! ’68 – ’18 I guess you’re right. You always were the math whiz!!! Kidding aside, I’m glad you enjoy catching with classmates after all this time. I think I’ve been to three of our high school reunions. The last one may have been the 30th? or 35th? A while ago anyway. You’ll have to fill me in!!!

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  3. Nanci Froemming
    Aug 14, 2018 @ 12:22:29

    Loved your analogy of a too-full plate in life to global warming. Makes one really think. All said with just the right amount of positivity and a sprinkle of humor.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  4. Anonymous
    Aug 14, 2018 @ 12:50:46

    Yup, my drain rack has been very full this summer. I’m close now to a RESTFUL trip to my beloved North Shore followed by many weeks of surgery recovery. The pendulum swings. It’s been a very colorful summer which I’ve enjoyed and will be ready now for down time. What can I say…I’m a Gemini! Good piece as always, Sherry.
    Sharon

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Aug 14, 2018 @ 13:38:12

      Thanks for signing your name, Sharon aka Anonymous!!! That is so funny. Every time you respond I have to ‘approve’ you even though you’ve been commenting on my posts for how many years now??? Anyway…I’m glad you enjoyed the article and could relate to a full drain rack! I’ll be following your progress through surgery and recovery sending healing thoughts fondly your way.

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  5. writingforselfdiscovery
    Aug 14, 2018 @ 13:33:56

    Thanks, Nanci. Sometimes I wonder if anyone else experiences wild associations similar to mine that seem to sprout automatically 24/7. When people ask how I come up with ideas for my articles, I’m stymied. Revelations are everywhere. The challenge is choosing which ones to write about!

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  6. sageblessings
    Aug 15, 2018 @ 00:00:36

    Trying to fix the anonymous thing. Won’t sign and see if you know it’s me😀

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