Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Don't Worry. Be Happy.

You want something motivational? You want something that is inspiring? You want something that will make you feel all warm and fuzzy and push you to give a homeless man a hug when you’re out and about?

For full effect, download the acoustic version of “Where Is My Mind” by Maxence Cyrin and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.

A lazy man’s solution would be to upload a video of my cuter than Care Bears 10-month old niece Raleigh, and have you smile at the way her bum jiggles when she break dances to Bob Marley music in her Mom’s living room. But I think I owe it to you to do a little bit more.  

When I was eight years old my sisters and I would hop on our Huffys with a handful of quarters in our overall pockets and bike the 3-mile marathon from the house my Dad built with his own two hands in Nibley, all the way to Bob’s gas station next to the Methodist church on Main Street. It was summer and the world smelled like fresh cut grass and barbecued corn on the cob. We biked next to the canal with ambitions of sugar rushes pushing us to keeping our legs peddling, and once we achieved our goals, once we traded in our sacred $1.25 in change, we would sit around in abandoned fields sucking back on Wonka Fun Dip and Big Hunk candy bars.

Those were some of the best times of my life. Those bike rides were moments where I was the most happy.

When I was 15 I got a part-time job mowing lawns and pulling weeds for my Grandpa. Once a week I would drive over to his house and sweat out a slightly below average amount of yard work for the minimum wage of $5 an hour. When I was finished and the beat up equipment had been laid to rest in the garage, my Grandpa would drive me to a run-down 50’s-themed burger joint sitting next to a Laundromat called One Man Band, and there we would eat Eggs Benedict and Chicken Fried Steak while the old man told me tales of scoring touchdowns wearing no facemask for the University of Utah, and proposing to his wife through a letter while he was away at basic training, and taking pictures of Vietnam in his F-4 Phantom 106 more times than he should have done. We sat in a deflated booth with an Elvis clock swinging his hips away in the background and runny eggs soaking up our plates and I would listen to him tell me the tales of his life.

Those were some of the best meals I ever ate. Those are the moments where I felt the happiest with another person.

One Friday night when I was 19, my buddy and his girlfriend walked in to my apartment toting along a third wheel showing off her legs in a sequined mini skirt. I sat on the couch wearing worn out gold basketball shorts, slurping away my fourth consecutive bowl of Lucky Charms watching reruns of The Simpsons. For a few minutes we joked about obviously different circumstances, and we laughed over the idea of a stranger walking into my living room to get some action. A ten-minute dialogue ensued to the point where neither of us were willing to back down from our physically intimate threats. And then in one of the boldest, yet most bizarre 47 seconds of my life, I walked out to the doorway where she was standing and kissed her. Without thinking. Without permission. We stood in a stairwell while my porch light flickered not even listening for the director to call cut and end the scene. For 47 seconds of our lives, the two of us were in L-word.

Kissing a stranger on my porch was one of the most defining moments of my young adult life. It was a moment where I felt pure happiness.

When I was 25, a group of obnoxious college grads bought tickets to a midnight showing of Inception. All seven of us piled into my 5-seat Nissan Rogue, and as we pulled out of my driveway the shuffle on my iPod rotated Queen’s "Bohemian Rhapsody" into the speakers. And we sang. All seven of us. For the 5-minute, 58-second drive from my front porch to the parking lot of Stadium 8 Theaters we blew out Freddy Mercury’s notes doing our best impersonation of the characters in Wayne’s World. As my Rogue came to a stop we all bowed our heads in unison and agreed that our lives were headed “Any way the wind blows” with the percussion cymbals bowing out the song in perfect sync with the halting of our vehicle. You can’t paint a better traveling karaoke group than that.

Without question that was one of the best moments of my life. That musical ride was some of the happiest 5 minutes and 58 seconds I have ever witnessed.

Last night I pulled my laundry out of the dryer and jumped into a freshly made bed with sheets that still smelled like the fabric softener marketed by a Teddy Bear. I closed my eyes and let the nine-year old inside me fall asleep with the Daily Show rambling on in the background.

And that made me happy.

This cluster of stories means absolutely nothing to you, I know that. And the bottom line is that my paragraph’s description of happiness only gives you a handful of what those experiences were like. But you have your own feel good stories when you were a kid, a teenager, an adult; you too have moments that make you smile and feel all warm and fuzzy when you relive them in your head.

This life is a stunning chain of events, dotted with experiences of happiness that litter the calendars of our lives. There are the great moments we reminisce over when daydreaming at work, and then there are the smaller moments, the minor details, like the smell of new carpet in our homes, a person hugging us back tighter than we are expecting, watching our dogs drool out the windows on the freeway, feeling the cold side of the pillow, or watching your niece dance her bum off in a YouTube video.

These are the things that keep smiles on our faces. These are the moments that make sure we stay happy.

What do you think?

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