Saturday, April 30, 2011
Not wanting to feel pressure applies to a book I was reading. It had been recommended and given to me by a friend, whom I will see again in a couple of weeks. It was quite well written, (a national book club selection), and the characterization and sense of place were real and credible. But the protagonist led a depressing life, and as I typically identify with the main character in a book, I did not want to live in her world. I kept reading. I realized I was feeling pressure because my friend wanted me to read and like the book, and I didn't want to disappoint. Nonetheless, about halfway through, I purposed to go no further. Any friend who is a friend will understand. For me, enough sad things come our way unbidden without living, even vicariously, more of them unnecessarily.
So I picked up a different book, and this is the page I turned to --
So Much Happiness
by Naomi Shihab Nye
It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up,
something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs
But happiness floats.
It doesn't need you to hold it down.
It doesn't need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
and disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
and now live over a quarry of noise and dust
cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own,
it too could wake up filled with possibilities
of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
and love even the floor which needs to be swept,
the soiled linens and scratched records...
Since there is no place large enough
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,
and in that way, be known.
Let me savor the ripe peach and love the floor which needs to be swept. Let me never forget the clutch of my newborn's hand around my finger, or the solid embrace of loved ones who have passed. Let me open my eyes and ears to all things beautiful, and choose happiness whenever, wherever I can.