Pursuing happiness

Like with a harpoon.  Or a high-powered rifle.

It is a basic American right but we misread it with alarming regularity.  We translate “pursuit” as “sit on the couch and wait for it to be advertised.”

I was raised by great parents, don’t get me wrong, but ambition and go-getting were never part of my lesson plan.  My parents were amazing when it came to including me in projects that they themselves were working on.  My Mom let me stick pins into her tomato pin cushion as she took them out of the pant leg she was hemming.  My Dad always made sure I was on hand to fetch a tool for him, and I prided myself on knowing what a vice grips was.

But if I wanted to take on something by myself… forget it.  Key phrases I distinctly remember as responses to my project ideas: Mom: “Maybe someday…”or “Well, I don’t think so.”  My Dad was a veritable font of encouragement, greeting my attempts at pretty much anything, from laundry to baking, with: “Does your mother know you’re doing this?” and, my favorite, “You’re just going to screw that up.”

So I used this upbringing as my excuse for being a passive slouch in my 20’s.  That’s what the 20’s are for, really, blaming your screwed up life on your parents and popping open another cold one to replace the baby bottle you wish you were still sucking on.

Then, with any luck, you turn 30.  Or maybe you have kids.  Either way, you realize it’s time to grow up.  You realize that, considering the messed up state of government, traffic and the universe, your parents didn’t do half bad.  It finally dawns on you that, hey, what you do every minute of every day has as great an impact on the world as what they did.  You realize that someday, someone is liable to blame everything, from the president’s idiocy to the drought to their own bruised self-esteem, on yours truly.

Time to make it count.

Lately, being a stay at home mom and thusly contributing precisely jack to our family’s economy, I have been wishing that I could work outside the 9 to 5 box, get a few off-the-beaten-path gigs going, like say a couple of tutoring clients or a translation assignment, maybe a freelance essay published, just a few things that will allow me to continue the priceless work I do taking care of my family and home while covering a couple of bills.

I’ve been hiding in the shadows with my list of ideas, feeling shy and unconfident.  And suddenly ridiculous.  These jobs ain’t gonna drag themselves out of the woodwork.  

What else is this life for but shooting for the moon?  What else does being a grown-up mean but taking the full blame and credit for how I spend my life energy, which is the only currency we truly have with which to purchase satisfaction?

Who am I if I am not pushing my boundaries, trying to grow out of those unhelpful characteristics which I developed, for whatever reason that now no longer matters, when I was just a pup?  I will never know who I am and what I can do if I don’t move forward, fueled by the visions, however improbable, that infuse me with enthusiasm when I chance to glance their way.

A secret: happiness IS the pursuit.  

Getting there, if we ever do, would just be icing.

5 Comments

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5 responses to “Pursuing happiness

  1. Joy

    The first time the realization came to me that one of my kids no longer found me stupid was one of the most wonderful feelings I’ve ever had. It blew me away. That I do know a few things. I felt so gratified.

    You can only do your best. Yes, if you never try, you’ll never fall but you have to remember that if you do fall, you get right back up and try again. Stumbles and bruises help make us who we are.

    You don’t give yourself nearly enough credit. I love your writing you PUP you!!

  2. It’s like the old joke, “When I was 18 I thought my father was an idiot. When I was 28 I thought he was brilliant. I was shocked at how much he learned in ten years.”

    A very zen posting. Very cool.

  3. stacybuckeye

    “The best time to plan a book is while you’re doing the dishes.” Agatha Christie
    This is a nod to your correct answer on my quiz, but an applicable one. You have a talent for writing thought-provoking posts. There’s always a way to convert interest and talent into a money-making (and self-esteem boosting) venture.

  4. Tutoring, translating, freelancing…I think you could be successful at any of them. Which are you passionate about? You’ve already exhibited your talent for writing on this blog. Go for it! Seek publication…seek out tutoring clients or translating clients. Don’t let your fears stop you.

    Wonderful, inspirational post.

  5. andrewhull

    What ever you do…..keep up the writing! It is obviously an important part of your happiness.

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