Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes, even though there is a roof over my head and plenty of food in the cupboards and a warm bed at night, it feels like nothing is okay or will be alright. Sometimes it seems like it would be better to just stay in that warm bed with the covers pulled over my head and hide from the world for awhile.
This weekend, I started and finished Gayle Forman’s “I Was Here”, and it was as heartrending as I’d expected it to be. It tells the story of a young girl left reeling by the suicide of her best friend. Cody doesn’t understand how Meg could have given up, could have left her behind, abandoned her to her sadness. It’s a good book. It’s a departure from Forman’s previous works (If I Stay, Where She Went, Just One Day, Just One Year) because, while it still involves a romance, the romance is not the center of the story. The story is Cody and how she survives this heart break. At the end of the novel (don’t worry, no spoilers here) Forman includes a few pages about suicide prevention and where to seek help. And she says this, which I love:
“Like Cody, like Richard, I have gone there. I’ve had my days. But I’ve never seriously considered suicide. Which isn’t to say my life hasn’t been touched by it. Someone very close to me attempted suicide long ago. He got help, and went on to live a long and happy life. If suicide is a sliding door of might-have-beens, in Suzy and Meg’s case, I see the ghosts of their lives unlived, and in this other case, I see the flipside: a happy, full life that might never have been.
Life can be hard and beautiful and messy, but hopefully, it will be long. If it is, you will see that it’s unpredictable and that the dark periods come, but they abate–sometimes with a lot of of support–and the tunnel widens, allowing the sun back in. ”
So sometimes life is hard and unhappy. But, as the marvelous Alice says in The Magicians by Lev Grossman: “No, you can’t [just decide to be happy]. But you can sure as hell decide to be miserable.” So in the spirit of deciding not to be miserable, I spent a day forcing myself to look on the bright side, smiling until I felt better (Kimmying–have you watched Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt yet? You should.). And you know what? It works. Sometimes you must look at the small things that make up your big life and let them make you happy.
So what are my little things?
Remembering my reusable grocery bags
Finding an amazing quote in a book I’m reading.
Delicious new flavors of coffee.
Office supplies. Fresh pens, blank notebooks, brightly colored post-it notes.
New books by favorite authors.
Houses that look lived in.
Finding a book for a teen who “hates reading” and having her like it so much that she asks to take it home. And then that teen comes back after finishing the book and begs for the next one.
Taking the dog for a car ride.
A library full of kids using everything in the library (playing checkers, building Legos, doing homework, reading books!)
Drinking red wine out of my “gladiator glass”
This list is not exhaustive, of course, but I think in the future I’ll post “Sometimes: Chapters 2-many” whenever I feel the need to refocus my life lens on the little bits of happy.
So what are yours, dear readers? What little things make you happy?