Happiness Is

Melissa - Plano, Texas
Entered on November 28, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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It was hot. My sons and I were parked in our van outside a mall, waiting for my husband to return from an errand. I kept the motor running and the air conditioning blasting in an attempt to stay cool. The boys, who were sitting behind me in the middle row, removed their shoes and socks.

“Your feet smell,” my youngest son Nick announced to his older brother Alex.

“Your feet smell more,” he quickly countered.

I stepped in. “You both have smelly feet.”

“Speaking of feet,” I said to Alex, “what’s up with the wart on your left one? Let me see if it’s still there.”

He plopped his lengthy odorous foot on top of the sturdy console next to me. I scanned slowly with my eyes, looking for evidence of the pesky growth, careful not to touch the surface with my hands. “Looks good,” I said relieved. “How about the other one?”

Out it came, landing with somewhat less conviction than its mate. The foot seemed paler, softer, unblemished. “Wow,” I remarked, this looks really, really good!” Within seconds a third foot emerged. I stared unblinking.

After a few seconds it occurred to me there were two left feet and the peanut gallery to my rear had turned suddenly quiet. After a few more seconds, giggles erupted, muffled by sweaty palms.

I turned around to find the boys, on the floor, their heads scrunched together, attempting to appear as a single body. Nick had both his feet up on the console, flanking Alex’s solitary left.

When our eyes met, our laughter burst like a dam.

I’m not sure whether it was the concept of them working so quickly and silently to pull off a practical joke or simply that warts and feet are inherently funny. I just knew that it was a window into their humor and I got to be part of it. I also never saw it coming. The laughter made me feel good, much the same way chocolate cake does.

Which got me thinking about the whole notion of happiness. What is it anyway?

Objects? Traveling? Love? The idea that money can buy happiness is deceptive. Democritus, known as the ‘laughing philosopher’ because of his emphasis on the value of being cheerful said, “Happiness resides not in possessions and not in gold, the feeling of happiness dwells in the soul.”

I know I’ve laughed the hardest when sharing unscripted moments with family. They live on in my memory and can be replayed whenever I need a feel-good boost.

I believe happiness includes a collection of shared joyous moments, money enough to satisfy needs but not adversely complicate lives, chocolate cake, positive relationships, and the time to notice the little things in life, such as when your child has two left feet.

Not necessarily in that order.