This is where it all went wrong. By the next day, when I got serious about writing, it was 89 degrees and humid. The magical state of inspiration was shattered. My disillusionment was beyond what the change in weather alone would dictate. I groused like my grumpiest Facebook friend.
I think this is one reason that grownups can't often achieve the same unabashed happiness that kids get out of five minutes on the merry-go-round.* Adults have complicated lives, with too many degrees of freedom in their bliss equations. Kids don't worry about tomorrow, or regret the road not taken. They are zen, unstable and uncaring. The rest of us bind our happiness to innumerable threads of achievement, entangled and often pulling against each other. Food, shelter, career success, happy and well adjusted children, regard of our peers, romantic bliss, must all coexist before we allow ourselves untainted joy. We must scale to the top of Maslow's pyramid to be unburdened, while an 8 year old is good with a hot dog and 15 minutes in the pool.
|The playground may be rubber, but at least none of these kids are texting.|
Image from here
I am not sure how much of this behavior is learned, and how much is a natural consequence of the way we are wired. There is a lot of gray matter surrounding the happy place in our brain. I'm sure it's there for some reason. And there is definitely a hormonal component. Self doubt and regret seem to come with puberty.
The good news is that I think the capacity for simple pleasure returns with age. Ask an eighty year old what makes them happy, and they are likely to say a good bowel movement, or a day in the garden. Our family gatherings used to devolve into stress-filled group therapy sessions. These days my family laughs through most of our time together. I have watched my mother's happiness threshold for holidays like Mothers Day moderate from -- unachievable, really -- to lunch and a call from her kids.
So it seems there is hope for us all, even my grumpy Facebook friend. Have a simply happy Mother's Day, everyone.
* I realize merry-go-rounds are much too dangerous for today's children. Do iPad games and Disney shows produce the same giggling elation? A question for another day -- and someone with kids -- I suppose.