My uncle said something once that I will always remember: “Life’s tedious and generally boring, Stuart. That’s just the way it is.”
I immediately rejected what he said (I was 18 at the time), although the quote has often popped into my mind since.
It’s hard to be really happy. That is, if “Happy” is defined by what you’ve got, or where you’re going, what flavour is in your mouth or what’s teasing the other senses. And so much of the other happiness seems dependent on these. My kids are less likely to smile and warm my heart while living on the street — but I suppose it’s possible.
I’ve often wondered why people I’ve met in my travels, often in desperately poor places, seem so much more content than Canadians. Someone should study this. But then, I have to admit that some of the most beautiful and defining moments of my life were the most painful: like holding Angus while he died. It may seem horrible to call a moment like this “beautiful.” It was because all the pretentions and aversions of life were stripped away. All that was left was excruciating life and love like blinding light.
It’s tempting to try to avoid these moments. Society is obsessed with distraction and avoidance. But life is not there. It’s somewhere deeper where pain can be described as beautiful. Tough thing, that.
I was feeling pretty rotten when I wrote the above text. But then Suzy walked into the room carrying Simon. He sat on my knee and I sniffed his wonderful baby-puke-smelling neck, and the relief was almost instant. Coming to grips with the fact that nothing is permanent, and that nothing really matters, makes me appreciate the smell of old regurgitated breast milk. It’s my life, and it may be tedious and scary at times, but never boring.