Here’s What I Want You To Know…
Friend, there are three things I want you to know now, in the middle of a hot and dry summer.
FIRST. No matter how many times, or how well you dust, vacuum, mop, wipe, scrub, or even pay someone else to do it, you are just going to do it again. I know. This seems patently unfair, and I’ve tried many times and many ways to alter the facts, but it’s a systemic problem that has no solution. For me and my home, I’ve settled into the grace of a layer of dust, a smudge on the mirror, and, in the hobby room a little pile of “that’s yours, not mine” in the “Corner of Ignore.” The pup prints on the floor, outlined by a trail of pup hair, help to guide us to the happiest places of our home, the patio and the guest bedroom, which has the most comfortable chair for cat naps if the door is left ajar for his sneaky entry.
The reason I want you to know this is that we often think our homes are not enough. I know I’ve had those moments, and you probably have too. No matter how well it’s decorated or neglected, no matter who is coming over, there’s always something that makes us doubt if it’s worthy of our guest.
It is your home. It smells like you. It has particles of dust, shed mainly by you, scattered amongst the things you spend time and money accumulating, admiring, ignoring, and shifting from spot to spot. Your home is your home and you should be proud of that fact, even if you don’t always feel great about the clutter. I believe the highest compliment I ever received about my humble abode was when my brother said, “This feels like a home.” He didn’t care that the very chic furniture style we’ve adopted is from the “Late Garage, Early Attic” time period. He knows we spend our money on memories and people, and that our home is filled with the same. Your home looks like you, and instead of hiding that fact, finding ways to bar the doors, it’s OK to throw them open and announce the love you feel for your guest while standing in a bit of chaos.
SECOND. You can travel without a plan. I mean, sure, there needs to be a little bit of a plan, like which mode of transportation and which direction you’ll be headed, but beyond that, let the winds blow you where they may. The most uplifting, liberating, life-affirming experiences I’ve had while traveling happened because fate, or pure luck, intervened. I turned left instead of right, opened a door that seemed a little scary, and napped in the shade of a palm tree while the world spun without my constant management of its rotation.
There are people you meet who’ll tell you their stories over a dinner at 9 p.m., which is way past a reasonable bedtime, if you just say yes. Those stories will change your understanding of the world. There are places you might plan to see, like the redwoods in California. But, the real story, the one you didn’t schedule, is in Oregon, and all you need to do is turn left to find it. When you travel without a plan, not caring what time it is, which meal you should be eating, which site you should be seeing, you come home with what you left home to find — stories, adventures, and a deeper understanding of who you are.
You can also do all of this alone.
I know, I know, that’s scary. It’s a big bad world, with monsters and goblins around every corner, but the fact of the matter is — I’ve not seen one of them yet. What I have seen is the beauty of a sunrise over a bay, with no one but myself to talk about it with, and let me tell you, me, myself and I had a damn fine conversation. I’ve been the lonely woman in the corner of the restaurant, who isn’t lonely at all because the wait staff is giving her lessons in local cuisine. I’ll be honest, I’ve not walked down a dark alley, or traipsed through a place I clearly didn’t belong (well, not often) because if you pay attention the world offers signs, placards and shivers up your spine to keep you safe. It’s not a plan to submit to, it’s just travel, and you should go wherever you want to go. Today. Just leave time for the unexpected.
THIRD. More people in the world want you happy than unhappy. There are people who devote their entire days, entire lives even, to your comfort and your happiness. Sometimes this is hard to believe, hard to understand, and hard to accept, but I promise you, if you look around, especially when life feels heavy, you’ll see them. It might be the barista who wants you happy with your coffee, the employee who goes the extra mile on the project you assigned them. Your spouse, or significant other better be on the list, and if they aren’t you need to have a little talk with yourself about that situation. Your pastor, the policeman on patrol, the boutique owner, the person who designed the chair you are currently sitting in, all want you happy. I make Happy Monday videos each week because I want to give you a little cheer. The staff of this magazine, sports teams, authors, actors and even your first-grade teacher, all want you happy.
It's kind of amazing when you stop and think about it, isn’t it? The number of people, seen and unseen, who are devoted to your comfort and happiness? They change your diaper when you are a baby, and another set changes it when you are old. They show up on schedule and when you least expect them, but somehow they are always there.
The trick, my friend, is to notice them, to accept their kindness and then, as graciously as you can, pass that bit of happiness on to the next person. When you do this, when you look for those happiness devotees, then you look for the opportunity to share happiness. You’ll find it is everywhere.
It’s in your cluttered house, it’s in the hotel shuttle bus, it’s in the seat next to you at the coffee shop. Without you, the world would be a little less happy, and because of you, the world is a little more happy. It’s really quite a remarkable thing. And… that’s all you need to know in these long, hot days of summer.