Thursday, July 30, 2009

Living Extremely is not Necessarily Living Happily-- Yes, I'm Talking to You.

I am not one for extremes.
Take the weather here lately, for example. Once the thermometer reaches ninety, I don't know how people can think straight let alone lead functioning lives. I'm living in a certain zombie-like limbo, waiting for the temperature to lower so I can return to my former life of productivity. The strange world I occupy now is landscaped with growing piles of dirty laundry and kiddie pools. My backyard is littered with various little keep 'em happy toys. It looks like a dollar store exploded in my yard.
Meanwhile, I don't care for extreme cold either. This is why I love where I live, people! You midwesterners can keep your below-zero temps, thanks. Still, I don't like monotony-- I would go bonkers if it was eternally sunny and warm. I love the changing of the seasons and the distinct feeling and flavor that each season brings. I just like my seasons within reason.
I'm not randomly bitching about the weather (although I certainly feel entitled to-- it's 6:30 in the morning and my clothes are already sticking to my body). I'm giving an example of the many ways I don't like extremes. I have been thinking that it's as valid to gain your life happiness through small, temperate means as through extremes.
I know not everyone can be as fortunate as me to be happy with the small things. I have always been blessed with a sense of exhileration over trifles other people probably wouldn't even notice. I get tremendous satisfaction from cooking something really delicious. I drive my husband crazy with all my happy little observations--"That cloud looks like a pink dragon!" "Oh my god, don't these flowers smell amazing?"-- I think he's really grateful to have children who bear the brunt of my enthusiastic inanities. I am in heaven if I have a couch, a good book, a glass of wine, and jazz playing. Ooh, and it should be raining outside. And a cat on my lap. There. Perfect.
Yet while I love my life almost wholeheartedly almost all the time, I know that many people would consider it "not living." It's a dark cloud on my horizon, and while I try not to care too much what people think, it's always been a problem of mine. As long as you're achieving real happiness, does it matter how you get there? Whether you're hiking in the woods, weeding in the garden, flying around the world, swimming with dolphins, cooking dinner for your family, drinking wine at a Tuscan villa, or dancing with a stranger... it's the contentment with your life that I consider important. How you get there is up to you.
I think about my life so far, and if I were lying on my deathbed what regrets I would have. Would I wish my life had been full of more excitement and adventure? I truly don't think so. I may not go sky diving or have a French lover, but the hours of playing the piano, watching sunsets with my husband, laughing with my children, reading good books, and talking with my friends, to me, adds up to a life full of deep, meaningful happiness.


  1. Liz I think your life is an amazing one! I agree it isn't worth living if you are just going to skip over all the little things. Our world is a beautiful place and I wish more people would slow down and see all those "little things" that in my opinion are really the big things that people are missing!! You go girl!! Oh and the couch,book,wine,jazz,rainy,cat on your lap day sounds PERFECT to me!!! :o)

  2. I think I talked to you about the "temperate life" philosphy, embraced by many philosphies and religions as an integral part of happiness...walking the middle of the path, whatever your path may be...
    It took me at least a year after James was born to realize I have to be happy with what I have now vs with what my options were previously...and then another 6 months to acheive the ability to do that!! Now I feel like it is probably the greatest lesson I've learned since becoming a mother..."Appreciate what you have and where you are"...freeing up the attention you have on WANTING so badly to be somewhere else allows you to enjoy where you are...I totally agree with you and am glad you have that realization too...I know that some of our friends (with the littlest one) are struggling with the is a HARD one!!! I think having friends who have done it help...