By: Maddy D.
Happiness is an elusive thing. It flutters around just outside of our line of sight, a fog of glittering gold and black. If you focus long enough, you can almost make out a shape forming in the cloud; gilded tipped claws, cobwebbed veins, a quick glimpse of glittering, intelligent eyes. But, just as easily, It melts into a shapeless form; a magician that only lets Its audience see so much. It adapts to each century, each person, as values and ideals ebb or flow. Here, you might catch It swirling over the heads of a resting family- the moments where the children play quietly and adults speak softly; settling into the glow of a merrily cackling fire as it feeds on the closeness and gentleness of souls. There, It might twist and glimmer in reflection of a madman’s blade, indifferent to the change in scruples. Truly, what did it matter, when Happiness lies in the eye and heart of the beholder?
Yet, for me? For me I cannot say. It slips away at such an ostentatious thought, indignant that one dare yoke It to a feeling, a sight, a dream. It is a shadow, a glimmer of gold and veined in silver in an unrelenting, broken world. It stalks in plain sight, wandering beside me, ranging off ahead, a flicker of thought, of hope, until I coax It back by Its braided chain.
To what? Perhaps It swirls on the current of Family, flittering around on paper-thin wings. Ever gentle, Happiness is, despite Its claws and flickering teeth. It rolls over slighted remarks and stilted arguments, smoothing them down like a river stone to the raw, beating heart underneath. It lingers on the quiet soft moments, where a warm fuzzy glow washes across resting folk, content after a holiday meal to just sit and swap memories or discuss current things. Just them, with most of the nieces or nephews quietly absorbed in whatever has them scattered around the house. No distractions tugging or calling anyone away; no Life to dash back into, a reprieve from the thousand-miles-a-minute world we live in. Simple peace, washing up to kiss my face in the form of steam from a cup of coffee as I savor the moment. Maybe. Just maybe that is where It resides. Yet, does It always? No. It’ll range ahead, to a new minute, day, a new thought, always on the lookout for something fresh. Different. Alive.
For some reason It fixates on the simple things, the most insignificant of moments, more often than not. It’ll stroke the tiny head of a chick, vibrating with the contented string of peeps, wallowing in the soft baby scent oozing from fluffy down. It’ll alight at the sight of the little orbs closing, snuggly nestled in cupped hands. Or grin to Itself, all gold-tipped glinting teeth, as It watches the little busy bees scratch and peck around on the earth, tiny peeping miniatures of their adult counterparts. Ingrained instinct it might be, but there is something adorable about it- a love that surpasses the boundary set down. Happiness is merely thrilled at the involvement, no matter how temporary. It hums, a seeping, thrumming warmth spreads from deep in the soul.
It’ll bask in the cat’s purr, of playing with its ears as they share in a close bond that took a lifetime to build- knowing It has a friend to turn to, sometimes, when the blurring of the ever-moving world gets a little too strong. Yet, other beings share in those same effects. Walking into the family room and having the little platy fish crowd the acrylic walls. They are always excited, never judging, never caring, just wanting company. Another Cheshire grin at the reaction, a gentle warmth in the heart. They cannot be petted like a rabbit, spoken to like a cat, but they exist, they see It. Happiness feels included, belonging. Even when all It does is waggle Its fingers a breadth from the glass, never touching, never spooking, just trying to interact. To glean a sense of companionship and love, of being from a creature most would not think twice about. Witless, they say. Happiness scoffs at this. It charges ahead before the mood sets. The braided chain rattles and strains.
I do not know why It likes such things, so fleeting as they are. So fragile, like the flowing thread of a spider’s web that could be plucked and broken, left helplessly to the whims of the breeze. It knows it too, doesn’t It? I would think Happiness would learn by now- every high has a fall, always, just a few minutes later, if not hours, days, or years behind. It’ll watch those things, those moments It once enjoyed, decay into the dust, taken by Illness, Accident or Time. Yet, It will always be confused at the outcome, chirring to Itself and poking the powder with a gilded claw, causing memories to shift or fly. That is the way of things. Forever and always, while the sun and moon change places in the sky.
It gives me a reproachful glare from the depths at the end of Its tether. It does not want to listen; It never does. Happiness is Its own master, stretching ahead for some handhold of control. Yet It is contorted and bound by me, forced to find new creative ways to coexist as the years go by. Simple things still work fine, don’t they, Old Friend? But some things are lost to Time, sifting through the sands. Turning the page. Looking back. Always inspecting, yearning, but unable to reach. Happiness, always fleeting, only willing to double back if It can go somewhere new.
Where? Maybe to other concrete moments, not quite as fleeting, always able to be replicated if the conditions are right. Basking in the glow of autumn, of summer, hailing the sun in its otherworldly kingdom with its crown of clouds and stars. Surrounded by the tears and blood of trees as they sacrifice themselves to Winter’s breath. Standing in the yard or in the woods, watching the tears, vibrant in their final defiance, dance and twirl down around in circles to the ground. Simply being there, trapped like an ant under a brilliant blue sky, cares and stresses marked insignificant and shed to the greater moment; that is where Perfection settled. Soul lifting, Happiness dances with those leaves, gentle always, mirroring their movements and sinking to the earth. Where? Places always, sometimes things, though those things are fleeting, tiny souls. I do not understand It; I don’t pretend to.
Sometimes places, sometimes things. Always shifting, waltzing around each other, but sometimes together too. And what of me? I am a grand spectator of it all, watching emotions jumble and tumble, watching Happiness spring and pounce amongst it all- never too far away, though. Never too far. Sometimes those moments touch me, sometimes they don’t, and like lightning, they never strike the exact same way twice. Some of those close think it’s wrong, it’s bad; I should be happy more. I find myself unconcerned. They do not see Happiness hiding in the places I do. It is different for them, as it should be. If It was the same, where would the magic be?
I sit beside a river of Life, perched on my rocks, watching the souls swirl around, bickering, laughing, crying together. I watch them, seeing them as individual, seeing them as whole, content enough to entertain both perspectives. Their problems are miniscule, a bubble here, a bubble there, on the grand scale of things. But deep down, tucked in close to the heart, they mean everything and then some. The beast at the end of the chain delights at seeing them, at being, a thrumming, buzzing thing deep within the soul, within the veins where It is rooted and searching for the river, for the Life. Ever reaching. Ever laughing.
So what are you, Happiness?
It flickers at the end of Its chain braided with hopes and dreams. Never solid, always elusive, It goes between being and not. It slips between the shadows of thought, gold plated, a shining silver armor in the light. It glides between the veins in the rocks, attention both outward and in. Always staring, always watching; It slowly circles closer, vast depths of nothingness thrumming back the question. Hooded eyes shining. Unyielding. An echo. What are You? An answer deep within Itself, vibrating within the thrumming, within the yawning expanse of shifting thought. A glimpse of something reflective before It ghosts away again: a mirror of the soul. An expression of the heart.
Edited by: Nicolette Hill