I absolutely love my iPad. It literally comes with me everywhere—work, bed, the bike, sometimes even the bar. (You never know when you might have to look something important up or have five minutes to sneak in a couple of reading moments.) I read books on it, take notes on it, use it in meetings and for searching the web. What I cannot understand is why, in designing this amazing piece of technology, the Apple people would have thought it was okay to not be able to read it in the sun. Put on sunglasses and the screen is literally black. Maybe it wouldn’t matter for iPad owners in Seattle or even Michigan, but here in Colorado, we have 300 days of sunshine a year. That means 300 days where I cannot see my iPad outside. And when it’s 70 degrees in April, I want to be able to read my book outside, on my deck, without squinting and trying to invent some sort of visor for the tablet, which did not work to my dismay.
So yesterday, as I was squinting and reading Cutting for Stone (great book, takes a while to get into it…) on my porch, I took a break and checked out a blog I read sometimes—The Happiness Project. This is based off a book I read about a year back by the same name, about a middle aged woman with two children, a loving husband and a great career. Although “happy,” she feels like she could be “happier” and spends a year of her life achieving careful, measurable goals in different areas of life (marriage, work, parenting, self-fulfillment) and build on them cumulatively, using concrete steps (such as, in January, going to bed earlier, exercising better, getting organized, and “acting more energetic”). The book is funny, thought- provoking and inspires one to become happier, through their own sort of happiness project.
Her latest blog post focuses on this idea of “arrival fallacy,” the belief that when you arrive at a certain destination, you will be happy. She explains that as humans, we often imagine that we’ll be happy as soon as we get a job/make partner/get tenure/get married/get that promotion/have a baby/move, etc. I thought about this. How often had I said these exact words? “I’ll be happy when…” Now, with a knee injury and other issues going on in my life, I find myself thinking… “when I get healthy, when I feel better, then I will be happy.” What I fail to forget is that I am still living NOW. Even though my life is limited and has had its challenges, I can still have fun with friends, read great books, exercise on the indoor machines, achieve successes at work, enjoy the Colorado sunshine. Just because I am not 100 %, doesn’t mean I have to put my happiness on hold, waiting for the day when my knee doesn’t ache when I wake up, doesn’t hurt when I walk up the stairs. Sure, that day will be great and all of the PT and work will be worth it, but it doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the process. We too often wait for that ultimate day when our lives come together in perfect fashion and AH! We are finally at the peak of happiness! But life isn’t always like that- life is a mix of ups and downs and happiness is achieved when the ups exceed the downs—the downs are more tolerable when we feel up most of the time.
Yesterday, because it was so nice outside and my knee was fairly sore, I decided to take a walk up the pass instead of cranking it out on the bike in the gym. It’s been 8 weeks since surgery and I am slowly able to do more, push it harder, but I have my limits. On this beautiful Saturday, I bucked up, put on a new playlist and walked. It was late in the day and the sun was over the mountain. It was quiet, peaceful and there were times I burst out in song (thank God no one was around, I don’t exactly sound like Mariah Carey). Both of my knees ached almost the whole time. But it was a beautiful day and I could walk in a beautiful place and just think. I was happy. My life isn’t perfect by any means, but the process is worth it. Maybe some day I will get married, get that promotion, have a baby…hell…maybe one day I will be able to read my new, perfectly designed iPad in the sun without squinting.
My happiness won’t rely on those “arrivals.” I am learning to be happy with the journey, take things as they come, enjoy what curve balls life throws at me and learn a little something about myself in the process. Sometimes the best moments in life are those we don’t plan for, those that aren’t an “arrival” of something. Sometimes they are the moments limping down the trail on a beautiful day, listening to feel good music, as the sun is setting over the mountain.