Monday, June 20, 2011

Happiness in Balance

Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.”   ~ Thomas Merton 

Tonight will bring in the first official day of Summer. I have to admit; I'm a much bigger fan of the first day of Summer than I am of the first day of Winter. Here in Maine, our weather is governed not by a calendar, but by our windows. What we see happening outside tells us which season it is. Snow isn't unheard of in late October, nor is it unreasonable in April. To people in southern areas, this would be a travesty in Autumn and Spring. Frankly, it's just a normal part of life at my home. Because our Summer season is so very short, our celebrations are all the more meaningful up here. We try to embrace and hold onto each moment of warm weather, every trip to the beach and all the memories will keep us warm all winter long.

Because I was so unwell this past Winter (and since Spring is a stealth season, much of Spring, too), I have to admit that I was looking forward to today's  'annual summer kick off beach' excursion even more than usual. There is something about digging my toes in the sand, listening to the waves on the shore and smelling the salt air that just makes me happy. The feel of sunshine on my cheeks, a lovely picnic lunch and a good book is honestly all I need to feel completely at peace. And yet, if it wasn't for the lousy way this winter had gone, I wonder if I'd truly appreciate how magical today was? Would I feel the same amount of appreciation for a simple day on the ocean, if I hadn't been in and out of the hospital? Would I smile, just hearing my daughter laugh with her friends, if my house hadn't been empty and hollow all winter?

I wish I could say that I'd have the exact same amount of joy, on the first day of Summer, if I lived in a warm climate, but I'm not entirely sure that would be the case. Without the dark, there is no light. I imagine that it would be very exciting for a while. The ability to eat on the deck every night would be wonderful. The giggles rising up from the bonfire, as my kids make S'moes with their friends most nights, would be heart-warming. The idea that I could sip my coffee in the sunshine each morning would be pretty delicious. And yet, I know myself well enough to realize that I might take each one of these summer favorites for granted before long. As healing and delightful as I find the sunshine right now, I can just as easily imagine that I could stop noticing it if I had it in spades every day. Why? Because there are times I fail to appreciate living at the ocean. Not long ago, my husband and I were walking our dog along the cove and ran into a very nice family from inland Virginia. They wondered if we just were in awe, every single day, about living in such a gorgeous place with such exceptional views. The fact is, we drive in and out of our neighborhood so many times every day that we don't often look up, as we're driving towards the ocean. Our brains are set to get into the garage as quickly as we can. 

Maybe it takes a certain amount of Winter before we can fully appreciate Summer. Maybe we have to be diagnosed with cancer before we stop and realize that life is miraculous. Maybe we have to be completely off kilter and out of balance in order to appreciate having a harmonious symmetry to our days.

Whatever the celebrations will bring this Summer, I promise myself to strive for appreciate the small things as much as I do the grand ones, and to seek out quiet for every period of revelry. Maybe, this way, I'll just be able to spread out my sense of equity.