We’ve all heard of Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. By contrast, I realized, happiness has four stages. To eke out the most happiness from an experience, we must anticipate
it as it unfolds, express
happiness, and recall
a happy memory.
~ The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin
Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.
~George Washington Burnap (often, incorrectly, attributed to Joseph Addison)
"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.
~ The House at Pooh Corner, A.A. Milne
I spent a lot of this week looking forward to things. I have some very exciting things to look forward to at the moment: overseas trips, people visiting and visiting people, activities that I really enjoy but that happen only once a week. (I also participated in some less exciting forward-looking as I waited with a variety of co-workers and friends for the government to announce what was going to happen to whose houses, now that they’ve got a bit of a picture of the state of the land underneath Christchurch. ) I’m a staunch defender of the joy of anticipation. I have about 8 different lists, at the moment, on my shelf, for my upcoming trip to Sweden – packing lists and places I want to visit and trails I’d like to cycle (and a very cool thing
I want to buy). I also have lists for my Christmas trip home and January visit to Tegan. I love pouring over travel books in advance. Last summer, when I biked the rail trail, I had the towns along the trip memorised a good month before I left. The only reason I ever practice for choir is because I need an outlet for the anticipation of getting to sing *those songs* with *those people,* which I love.
But I have to admit that by Wednesday night, the number of things I was looking forward to... swamped me a little, and I got downright antsy. I ended up going for a bike ride before tea, looking for a bit of present-tense, but found myself, again, planning for the weekend, when one of my siblings would be here with an aunt and a cousin that I last saw over 2 years ago.
The thing is, there’s anticipation and then there’s impatience and they’re awfully close together, and I kept spilling over from the one which is fun to the one which isn’t.
When I got home on Wednesday I spent some time wandering through my favourite internet places and I found a piece from Neil Gaimen - there’s always something good from Neil Gaimen – which summed this all up rather nicely. And I think, since I loved it so much, that I might start trying to memorise it. It’s been a while since I added “Litany” to my memorised poetry repertoire and I need a project for the long plane trips coming up. With the last few lines running through my mind, I did a much better job, on Thursday, of enjoying my present, and on Friday, when the Sib, the Aunt, and the Adorable Cousin finally did show up on my doorstep, we had a completely delightful Indian dinner, complete with dramatic renditions of children’s books read aloud in public places...
(in case you have room for just one more quote – here is Mr. Gaimen’s poem.)The Day the Saucers Came
(From Fragile Things
That day, the saucers landed. Hundreds of them, golden,
Silent, coming down from the sky like great snowflakes,
And the people of Earth stood and
stared as they descended,
Waiting, dry-mouthed, to find what waited inside for us
And none of us knowing if we would be here tomorrow
But you didn’t notice it because
That day, the day the saucers came, by some coincidence,
Was the day that the graves gave up their dead
And the zombies pushed up through soft earth
or erupted, shambling and dull-eyed, unstoppable,
Came towards us, the living, and we screamed and ran,
But you did not notice this because
On the saucer day, which was the zombie day, it was
Ragnarok also, and the television screens showed us
A ship built of dead-men’s nails, a serpent, a wolf,
All bigger than the mind could hold,
and the cameraman could
Not get far enough away, and then the Gods came out
But you did not see them coming because
On the saucer-zombie-battling-gods
day the floodgates broke
And each of us was engulfed by genies and sprites
Offering us wishes and wonders and eternities
And charm and cleverness and true
brave hearts and pots of gold
While giants feefofummed across
the land, and killer bees,
But you had no idea of any of this because
That day, the saucer day the zombie day
The Ragnarok and fairies day, the
day the great winds came
And snows, and the cities turned to crystal, the day
All plants died, plastics dissolved, the day the
Computers turned, the screens telling
us we would obey, the day
Angels, drunk and muddled, stumbled from the bars,
And all the bells of London were sounded, the day
Animals spoke to us in Assyrian, the Yeti day,
The fluttering capes and arrival of
the Time Machine day,
You didn’t notice any of this because
you were sitting in your room, not doing anything
not even reading, not really, just
looking at your telephone,
wondering if I was going to call.