After a break, I am back to the Sandbox Writing Challenges, with a question about what makes me happy.
As I age, I find I am not so much happy as content or at peace, and that I much more strive for that than I do happiness any more. If I look back at photographs in my albums, there seems to be more pictures of me looking quizzically than with a face-splitting smile even going back to my childhood.
The little blonde girl at 3 is staring back at the camera, trying to work out in her mind what the person holding the black box “wants” from her. What she is expected to do or give, in order to please the large human taking the shot. Even the infant being held closely by loving arms, seems to be staring intently up at the holder, never smiling..instead searching…wondering…waiting.
20-something Shannon holding her babies and toddlers and staring again at their faces, their eyes, gazing down at a chubby hand locked into her own. Never fully facing the picture-taker, instead looking elsewhere, sometimes intentionally turning her head to the side..her eyes away from the camera, allowing the profile to be taken, rather than the eyes..those searching eyes.
My favourite pictures of myself that I have in my possession are pictures that were taken when I was unaware of the camera or the picture being taken.
One is of my Mother and I taken months after my accident, when she flew me home to see her once I was recuperated enough to fly alone.
We are in her living room on the sofa together, sitting closely and I felt a spontaneous urge to lay my head on her shoulder, while she was reading something. Probably to get a better look at what she was reading, quite honestly, as I was never overly affectionate with her. My brother was her baby and her cuddler…not me, and I was fine with it, as I’m not overly demonstrative that way.
But that moment caught in time shows me with my eyes at half mast, closing, and my face moving towards her neck, almost like a kitten searching out warmth or safety.
The other photo is one that was taken right after she died and I had family and friends over and it was well into the night and the drinks and music were flowing. My oldest son was around 18 at the time, and he leaned over the back of my chair and wrapped his arm around my neck, while putting his cheek against mine, snuggling right in. My friend just happened to have her camera ready and stole that moment in time, without either of us noticing.
I look pleased…startled almost that someone noticed me sitting alone, and took the time to comfort me. My oldest son has always signified safety to me, as my brother always did. They are carbon copies of each other, the two men I have trusted the most in my life with my safety.
Happiness to me, whether for good or bad, or for totally dysfunctional reasons, means feeling safe. No drama. No fears of the unknown or what could be coming. A sense of quiet calm. That incredible feeling that you can close your eyes for just a moment..and someone else is watching to make sure you are safe.
I have known for my entire existence that the other shoe will be dropping. It is an exhausting way to live, but I have been doing it for so long that it is second nature. I am not like my younger son, who struggles to even enjoy good tidings, in case it makes the next setback even harder to survive through. But I am always, always, aware of the danger lurking around the corner, waiting.
My way of holding on is to be absolutely prepared and aware- it has served me well.
There is a sadness that I have had to evolve into this person, but has become easier to accept it as me, than it would be to change it now.
I have Plans B, C, and D ready at all times.
I have course-corrected my entire life and it makes me feel less fearful to know that I am prepared to anything that comes my way.
I choose to enjoy the small moments now and am grateful for the little things that we all natter about as we age.
A great cup of coffee.
No red lights for miles.
Discovering new music through my sons.
Walking in nature and sitting with my own thoughts.
I really love spending time in my head and that brings me closer to where I need to be.