Sometimes I need to stop and remind myself that I am, actually, happy.
This should seem like an easy thing to remember.Â I have a loving family,Â my health, a place in which to live (so what if it is small and chronically cluttered?), enough food to eat. Â I don’t live in a place torn by violence or persecution. Â I have books; I have friends; I have my spiritual life. Â That’s not bad, all told.
And yet, so often,Â I need a reminder.
About twoÂ summers ago, I wrote about how I started to notice a yellow butterfly in the backyard. Â It was big and beautiful, and it would flutter about as I sat in the yard writingÂ or gardening or watching the boys play with water toys on the lawn. Â It was so large and unmissable and it always came so very close to us, just like a butterfly in a Disney movie, Â that I began to see it not merelyÂ as a butterfly, but as a symbol of happiness. Â I felt a connection to it. Â For months afterwards, I’d see it, and think about my many blessings.
As the seasons changed, though, it was easy to forget about my little friend. Â Autumn and winter are not good seasons for seeing butterflies. Â And this has been a tough fall and winter,Â with some very big challenges at work which have been hard not to carry with me into all other areas of my life.
And then a few weeks ago,Â I was at Filoli admiring the lilacs. Â Lilacs are like a religion to me; I was burying my face in them and inhaling deeply, trying to fill my lungs with enough scent to see me through the year until they bloom again next spring. Â I happened to beÂ carrying some brand-new work stress with me that day, and the purple smell of the lilacs was doing its part to mitigate it, but it was a particularly tenacious kind of stress. Â I was having a hard time getting past it.
Then, all of a sudden, a yellow butterfly landed on the lilac blooms. It was the first butterfly I’ve seen this year.
And I started grinning, right there by the lilacs. Â I couldn’t help it. Â It was a graceful, yellow, airborne version of a smackÂ upside the head. Â You are happier than you realize, that butterfly reminded me.
It stayed for a long, long time on the lilacs. Â It let me get very close. Â And I won’t say the stress was entirely gone, but those lilacs and that butterfly did help me find a perspective I needed. They remindedÂ me that God speaks to me in all kinds of ways,Â some of them small and delicate and beautiful.
Â What is reminding you to be happy today?