Saturday, June 23, 2012

Mine for Keeps?

I've been very happy lately.  For six whole months now, in fact.  This run may be the longest of my life. 

When I say happy, I don't mean just the presence of a positive feeling state.  I also mean the absence of my old nemesis anxiety.  There have been what I consider normal moments of angst, nervousness, and stress, but no tightness that makes it difficult to breathe, no psychological-warfare-level Voice of Doom in my head, no constant less-than feeling.  It has been and is wonderful.  This is what it's like to be a real person, or so I have imagined it. 

But still I worry....  Well, that's a strong word.  I wonder sometimes if my happiness is borrowed.  I can't deny the coincidence that it arrived and nested after I got the job I now have.  Am I still succumbing to the fallacy of proving my worth so that I can feel I have some laurels to rest on, or have I finally, after years of counseling, reading, praying, and other retraining, finally reached the promised land of real change and new habits? 

Most days right now, I don't care.  I bless the experience with my notice and gratitude, regardless of its provenance.  I savor it mightily, but do not take it for granted.  I know that suffering will come to me again at some point.  Such is the way of life.  I'm not being gloomy, just accepting.  Understanding that bad will come--and that it's not personal--makes the good sweet indeed.  I am obligated while they are here to treasure each precious moment in which circumstances make my happiness easy. 

Many wise people say that happiness should not be dependent on circumstances.  After all, we can't control the latter, only the former.  I've tried to live that independent-joy wisdom.  I think I even learned my lesson in the fallow time before this dream job.  I certainly hope so because this happiness I want to keep--not jumping for joy, just feeling...sturdy, capable, sufficient, optimistic.  It feels like being really me.  It's perhaps pathetic to be so grateful for what should be a given, but that's what deprivation does to a body--or rather, a mind.  Actually both. That's how anxiety rolls.

But I still wonder if it isn't natural to be happier when we come closer to what we've sheepishly desired for years and years, when what was missing is finally found.  How was I supposed to be content when I hadn't made it to the life in which I could find contentment?  Of course, that may be the anxious person's logic, born of an inability to trust life and the eventual unfolding.  Anxiety is big on scarcity.

Whatever the answer to the Big Question (Is happiness dependent on circumstances?), I hope that this happiness of mine isn't borrowed.  I hope it's mine for keeps.  Well, mostly.  Nobody's the old bluebird every moment.  But I dearly hope that it can be the rule and not the exception, the heart-place to which I can return because it's home, not just a way station in the storm.

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