The Science of Satisfaction
I believe in an ongoing osmosis of the mind, the movement of thoughts like crowded molecules migrating from the edge of suffocation to a place where there is room for freedom. I believe that we decide our own happiness, through gratitude and grace in the face of the conditions granted. I believe in going with the flow.
When I was five years old, I remember making the move from small-town Kansas to central California. I thought it was great, driving across the country eating peanut butter sandwiches out of the backseat with my brother and playing mini-golf at a motel in New Mexico. What I never realized was that as we traced our way west, my father was driving farther away from the life that he had worked hard for.
He had worked since he was 14, waking at 4 am to cook breakfast for the wheat farmers and local boys. He had worked, with Midwestern tenacity, until he became chief-of-police, and had earned the respect of almost everyone in town. I was his daughter, no question. I blushed when people told me how my dad had helped them, or what a good man he was.
When we moved, however, my dad was forced to take a job as a security guard at a winery. Although highly over-qualified for the position, he was never too proud to do what he had to. Throughout my childhood I remember our family’s struggles with money. Occasionally my dad would take two jobs, sometimes at a pizza place, or pest control, or even surveying stock at grocery store once so that I could take an art class with my friend over the summer.
It was an ethic that I could never forget, the utter selflessness and devotion to our family. He went without a second thought, leaving behind his high position to move to California, where his mother-in-law lived and needed family nearby to take care of her. It was because of his ability to let go of what he thought he deserved, and have faith in what was waiting for us, that put me here. After sharing a house with my grandmother in central California for a year, my dad was promoted to a position in northern California, and our family was offered a company house to live in.
I’ve lived in that house for 12 years now, on the most beautiful ranch I’ve ever seen. It was an opportunity that would never have been ours if my dad had not been so great at adjusting to new conditions. We still don’t own our own house, or live luxuriously in money, but I can say I own so much more. I own the feeling of grass and gravel on bare feet, the summer slumber of slow, cold streams, and the circadian rhythm of frogs each night before bed. I believe in living in that freedom, the freedom my father gave me.
By going with the flow, so much more is gained. Instead of carrying the weight of what you want, let it go and find out what can be given. What you can give to others, and ultimately, what the universe has to give to you. In this divine retribution, rewards come in many forms. It’s about being thankful for what you had, what you lost, who you love, and where you are today, in this moment. A lyric from a favorite song of mine, “Aqueous Transmission,” by Incubus, sings “Maybe we can meet again further down the river and share what we both discovered, then revel in the view.” I remember listening to that during hard times, reminding myself to revel in the sight of what life has given me, to go with the flow of the river, and ultimately discover something so great that even the worst of times seem as nothing more than bumps against the bottom of life’s little canoe. And so far, even in my young 17 years of life, I couldn’t be more grateful for the view.