I’m standing on the front step as my daughter gets ready for bed, something she’s just learned to do by herself. I wonder at what point in the routine she’ll call out for me to help, half hoping she will because that will mean she’s not growing up too fast, and half hoping she won’t because it’s been a long day. I’m tired. There’s a chewed-up plantain taped to the arch of my right foot, an attempt to heal the bee sting I got earlier while walking in the garden. It’s working even though I can still feel a dull throbbing. My skin is damp from the day’s moisture hanging in the air. Cicadas hum while the sun sinks into the westerly horizon, now a bit earlier each day. Dusk approaches, bringing with it calm anticipation. Summer is in full swing even as it starts to slip away. I’m wholly content despite lingering discomfort, even as I long for what I can’t seem to name. I long for what I’m experiencing this very moment. It’s like missing what I have before it’s gone.
Could I delight in this feeling, somehow meld it with the kind of perspective from which happiness is forged? Maybe these evenings of contentment juxtaposed with longing, even when punctuated by discomfort, are exactly what happiness is made of. Lately happiness hasn’t been fitting in the box I typically reserve for it – the one marked “if only” or “when”. What if happiness sits perched, always at the ready, waiting for me to let it speak up and stop knocking it around with expectations? What if standing on the front step, short respite on an August evening, skin dewy from humidity and foot throbbing, could be a moment of unbounded joy?
What if happiness is right here, on my shoulder, waiting for me to notice?