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how can I be happy? But I am.

Judy Fox
March 20, 2016

This morning, just back up north from being down in Florida in my mother’s home, I took my usual walk around the loop up here in Western Massachusetts, listening to gospel reggae music, and filled with delight by the sun, sky, trees and open space. I thought to myself, I am really happy. Then I remembered an exercise I did a few months ago at a writing workshop where we were to start the essay with, “Deep down inside….” and continue writing until the teacher said to stop. Afterwards some read their papers where they spoke mainly about some difficulty they were experiencing. I was almost embarrassed at what I had written given that it was so upbeat. I wrote:

Deep down inside, I’m truly happy and have never been so happy – no, it’s not happy, but so truly content to be finally my self – big self – small self – me. I feel like I’m finally coming out of the shell – not trying to be anyone else – not trying to prove myself.

Deep down inside – can it really be true, but it is – I’m fundamentally not worried – not worried about where I am going, what shall be…not worried about life in general.

Deep down inside, I’m content, full, happy, so absolutely happy to be alive – breathing. Yes, I’m grateful, deeply grateful.

Deep down inside, I’m at peace, not afraid.

Deep down inside, I have no strong goals and yet I am moving forward.

Deep down inside, I’ve come to the end of any seeking and feel a deep sense of contentment.

Deep down inside, I breathe easily. I’m at home. Love solitude and me-ingness.

Deep down inside, life is good. Endless, bottomless, infinite space in all directions 360 degrees. Empty, Full, no words, vast mystery. Life.

In reading this now I want to add that it’s not that I never worry or that I never get upset or still cry at times missing my mom. It’s been nine months since she died. Nor does it mean I have no problems that I am challenged with…but there is this background and foreground of contentment. And I don’t totally know why that is so.

Anything I can think of doesn’t totally explain why. Yes, I am grateful to have very good friends and family – not immediate family but cousins – and I am making new friends, new good friends. And I am also grateful that I am financially secure. And given that I am approaching seventy - not there yet, but getting closer, grateful for being reasonably healthy. But this does not explain why I rest and re-rest in a sense of fullness. Even though there is still much to do, much to participate in and give to, this in no way takes away from that fullness.

Again I cannot explain it all, but I know that the three years I spent with my mom after she had a stroke, and the three years prior to this when I spent more and more time with her, had a profound effect upon me. Living so close to the end of someone’s life – my mom’s life – coming so close to her in a very simple way and caring for her well being had a big effect. Dramas shrink in this environment. And in a sense the future shrinks; the future in terms of what I am going to do or where I am going – that kind of future. What takes priority is love and connection; the heart takes priority and the heart speaks a different language than the ruminations of the busy mind. Both heart and mind of course are needed, but not the mind that is so habitually self-focused. Since my mom died and there has been much to do and feelings of loss, still that “space” that was so prominent when I lived with her has basically remained.

Perhaps I can also say I am that much less afraid of dying since being with my mom and it doesn’t mean in any way that I want to die; no, on the contrary I love life and I’m curious about so many things; also disturbed by many things and at the same time so curious and interested. It’s like life begins anew with the background of experience and understanding and with the abiding sense of my mom who is ever with me in love and guidance.

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