It has been one of those mornings where nothing really worked right. I don’t feel discombobulated, but evidently, I am. Simple things, like the making of coffee, simply did not fall into place. The daily steps of it got distracted. Things like, sticking in the filter, got forgotten. And so there was a mess of the first scoop of coffee in the tray, sans filter.
I got to clean the whole coffee pot out and start again.
It was a mess in the driveway. My car was more stuck than I knew, the snow more ice underneath. DIgging things out was not quite enough. I rocked my car, threw down some ice melt. Somehow, again, as simple as the task of digging out took half an hour. The roads too, generally so well cleared here in Vermont, were plowed down to the ice. I slid my way to my favorite diner.
Thank goodness they were open.
My computer, however, decided to be persnickety. It booted and then,, when I tried to run my daily batch of programs, they took, well, more than forever. They would open part way, then stop. I rebooted. Rebooted again. Checked for extensions gone bad. There’s a whole litany of things to check and I was doing it all, the morning wasting away. A sermon waiting to get done. A poem scratching at the back of my head waiting to get out.
Yeah, I was frustrated. But…
Regular readers, and particularly those who also follow me on facebook know that one of the things I love about my favorite diner is the music they play. The owners are a couple where one (Ray, the cook) is a musician, and the other (Adrienne, who waits tables) is an artist. They have a wonderfully eclectic taste in music and you never know what you might hear when you walk in the door. Sinatra, Funk, old-time blues, Old-style country, Elton John. You never know, but it is always good.
A few years ago I started posting what the diner was playing on Facebook. I am not sure why I did. I just enjoyed it so much I wanted to share it. And what I found is that a lot of people responded. I was surprised, but what one friend told me is “every time you post a musician, I remember them again, and all the feelings and history of that musician in my life.”
So I come in this morning, fumble-fingered and frustrated. Living in tech support hell, and the music greets me. George Michael. Bill Withers. Prince. Annie Lenox. Not a soul else in the diner. (We do have a foot of snow after all. Sensible people are still home.) Ray and Adriene are singing. I start singing too. (OK, this happens more often than I like to admit.). We are having a blast. And it hits me.
Music makes me happy. Singing makes me happy.
All the weirdness of the morning and we are singing in three-part harmony. Even when another set of guests show up, we are singing. It suddenly, was a happy morning.
I don’t know why this seemed like a revelation to me. I have sung all my life. Choirs. Musicals. Groups. Pretty much every kind of music except country and gregorian chants (I love Gregorian chants actually, but never sing them.).
In recent years though, I have sung less. I have played less music. WHen I do, I enjoy it. but somehow, in my semi-depressed state, I seemed to have forgotten just how happy I am when I sing. I don’t even have to sing well. (though I try to. My mother directed choirs and singing well was an expectation when I was young.).
I don’t do happy a lot. Maybe that is the depression. Maybe that is part of being a child of an alcoholic parent. Maybe it is just my nature. I do pleased. I do content. I do “Plow through my depression to be functional.” I do a lot of moods.
But happy. That smile to your toes kind of happy? I don’t seem to have it in me mostly. I have moments of it, but not for any sustained time. Don’t feel sorry for me. It’s a thing that just is. I am accustomed to it. As I said, content.
But, as I was singing this morning, I was happy. That down to your toes happy. And once I got my computer running and stopped singing to start work, I stopped a second to just enjoy that feeling. And realize I had suddenly, somehow, taken another step.
Most of the past fifteen years has been a journey back. Back from my darkest places. Back from a depression that was crippling. Much of that journey back was recovering parts of me that had gotten lost in the decades before. Some of that journey involved growing into new things. Some came from love’s return to my life. My children. My wife. Some even came from tiny, almost silly things. Getting cats after a time without them. A good cup of coffee. Reclaiming a broken friendship.
I think sometimes, we want the journey to joy to happen in a flash. “Do this and ‘voila!'” you are happy again. That’s not been my reality. It’s been step, plateau, step, plateau. Almost like I had to let each step settle in, seep into my soul and become fixed in a way it was not before all came undone.
And here I am again, fifteen years after the collapse, suddenly reclaiming something new. It’s been there all along. Surely this morning is not the first morning I have found myself singing along in my favorite diner. And I sing in our little choir at church. But, something in me was not as open as it could have been to the happiness music brings me, singing brings me. I was not ready, evidently. And suddenly today, I was.
I wonder sometimes how often we are surrounded by things that could bring us happiness, but are not ready for them. What could we do to make ourselves ready? Or is there anything we can do? Maybe it is more a matter of us being ready than it is what surrounds us.
I don’t have an answer. Not this moment. For now, I am content to have suddenly found a new piece of my ever-growing life, another step in a quest for joy and happiness.
Thank you for your patience as I ramble. You guys are the best.
It won’t be exegetical, but it sounds like a sermon for Sunday your folk might need to hear! M.
You are a seer, Mitch. I think this is going to turn into a sermon about how we have to be ready to let God fully in, using Nicodemus as the example.
The vision of you singing along with the diner crew has me grinning from ear to ear ! Happiness is the kind of contagious I readily embrace!
GREAT piece of honest, insightful and “happy-ending” writing Tom! Thank you.
Awww. Thank you. And here I thought I was just babbling.