Thursday, June 24, 2010

Absolute Joy - My Top Twenty List

As I'm getting older and realizing my days here are numbered, I do try to seize the day, to be in the moment. Usually it doesn’t work, but occasionally it does. Being here in Portland with my grandchildren, holding them, and actually being able to feel their chubby feet and their very busy little vibes, make me want to stop time in order to frame the feeling, to be acutely present in the absolute joy I'm experiencing.

All of this thinking and feeling leads me to the notion of documenting, in some way, memories of great happiness I've felt throughout my life. I worked diligently to narrow them down; most are generic, a few specific. The majority are from recent years, but not all. And please know that I realize how self serving this is, how all about me it is, and why on earth would anyone else want to read it? If you decide to pass this one by, I won't blame you. However, I do wonder if my list will encourage you to contemplate
your list.

Here is my Absolute Joy Top 20 List at this particular moment in no particular order:
  1. Certain songs and singers - Fly Like a Bird by Boz Skaggs, Wayfaring Stranger by Johnny Cash, almost anything by Van Morrison or Lucinda Williams or Tracy Chapman ( I just added this one) or Neil Young (I've got to turn off KPIG)
  2. Holding my babies and grandbabies for the first time
  3. Sunrises and sunsets - I know this one is sappy and probably a cliche, but it's true
  4. My birthday dinner at Tierra with Molly, when we talked about her dreams for her future and I drank too much wine and she drove me home
  5. A Gospel Christmas each year at Atlanta Symphony Hall
  6. Sitting at a tiny Italian restaurant in Athens, Georgia, eating lunch, while my dissertation was being printed
  7. Watching my grandkids dance
  8. Barack Obama winning the presidency
  9. Finding my copy of Arizona Highways with the article I'd written in my mailbox
  10. When Allison preached my mother’s funeral at the edge of Oak Creek
  11. Many Christmas mornings, especially one at Tybee some time around 1995
  12. The beach in winter
  13. When someone likes my writing
  14. Being with my kids
  15. When I create something new and I'm happy with it
  16. The first time I saw Michael Jackson moonwalk
  17. The beginning of Lonesome Dove and the end of A Prayer for Owen Meany
  18. Most cats
  19. Christmas lights, especially the colored ones, especially when they are in bars
  20. My solo weekend trip to Paris
I thought hard about this list and it feels right. People who know me well will say, "There's Marcia going on again about such and such," but that's a good thing because, if I blab about it to the point of embarrassing myself, then I probably love it, and what I love defines me.

In addition, with the exception of being with my family, almost everything on my list happened when I was by myself, and I don't know if that means I'm ultimately happiest with just me, or, if it could be that, without the distraction of others, I'm better able to stop and appreciate the wonderfulness of a particular moment.

So, I guess supreme happiness for me would be to meet up with a cat at a beach-side bar at sunset on Christmas with Van Morrison on the jukebox. I could show the cat pictures of my grandkids dancing and, perhaps, something I've written. I just hope he'd like it.


something witty said...

Yay. just... yay

Kate said...

This she likes it.
I believe that it is only when one IS really happy that s/he has any happiness to model a/o share. How can one possibly give what one does not have?

So, for me, the key is to find the feeling of happiness whether the event is present or not. And pulling out these old moments, like these that you have shared, are how we know we got the feeling right. cool.

I love the way you explore things...

Wisewebwoman said...

The Gypsy in My Soul - love that Van song.
I made a similar list, Marcia a few years ago, I too was surprised at how my happy moments were so simple and didn't involve other people (much).
Happiness is an inside job and the more we make it not dependent on others the more contentment we feel.
Simple helps too...;^)
Lovely list.

Anonymous said...

Of course I would want to read your list - it helps me get to know you better. It's a generosity on your part to share some of yourself. Yes, you've nudged me and I'll make my own list. That's a good question to explore - am I happiest when alone or with others? Mary B

oklhdan said...

As usual you have given me something to ponder. Almost immediately I realized that my list would almost always include someone else. I'm not sure what that says about me but it's worth exploring!

marciamayo said...

Yeah Dani, that whole introvert/extrovert thing.

Abby said...

I think I'd like to meet you for a drink that that beach side-bar at sunset. Sounds just perfect :-)

marciamayo said...

Abby, you aren't a cat so it would never work.

Bea Boomer said...

Marcia, you've inspired me to make a list of my top twenty. I, too, love certain songs - one of my absolute favorite songs is "Europa" by Santana. Anyway, you have some pretty awesome choices on your list - time to go work on mine.

Friko said...

Wonderful idea, Marcia, may I borrow it and turn it into a post too?

I have been thinking of lists too,(one does eventually run out of new ideas and musings and ravings and rants) and a happiness list is a brilliant ides.
Not only because it gives me a theme for a post but also because it makes me think of happy things. Very few happened in my early life, most good things have happened in the last twenty years.

marciamayo said...

Hi Friko, it's been fun to analyze what I included and what I didn't. Even two days later I would change some, but that doesn't make them any less important when I chose them. I like having a finite number, rather than just a list of everything that's made me happy at one time or other. That way, I have to weigh them and choose.
I look forward to seeing your post.

Anonymous said...

As usual, your writing is entertaining and thought-provoking (already thinking of my list). For some reason, however, your description of supreme happiness reminded me of David Allen Coe's, You Never Even Called Me by my Name, in which he adds a stanza that makes it the perfect country song (including references to mama, trains, trucks, prison, and gettin' drunk:
Well, I was drunk the day my Mom got outta prison.
And I went to pick her up in the rain.
But, before I could get to the station in my pickup truck
She got runned over by a damned old train.
Phil H.

cile said...

I LOVE a good list and this one is superb! Finding your entry today was pure salve for my soul as I was just served up a dose from a loved one stating I was an insufferable bore when I put pen to paper. (I'm laughing now, but I wasn't) I can read your list and feel the pure joy, Marcia. I thank everyone here as I read through the comments. It is so true as WWW says, "Happiness is an inside job". I REALLY needed that reminder today! Please add "..That time I saved that woman up north from burning everything she ever wrote" to some list you might have of things to feel great about! Thanks!

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