eudemonia \yoo-di-MOH-nee-uh\, noun:
1. Happiness; well-being.
2. Aristotelianism. Happiness as the result of an active life governed by reason.
This is the first word in ages that's resonated with me, both linguistically (come on: the rise and fall in cadence, the simply flowing assonance--it's undeniably striking) and emotionally (the word happiness has been on my mind for a while, as may become apparent). What's funny is that even though Dictionary[dot]com took the trouble of lovingly hand picking it for my inbox (that's totally what they do, right?), Merriam-Webster and my handy-dandy macbook dictionary don't even recognize it as a word.
Still, it's fitting with the music I've had on a loop all week, most especially with the song "Happiness" by The Fray (I've also been listening to Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know" if anyone's curious). "Happiness" is a song I've adored for years, but it's taken special significance on my iPod this year. Unlike what I expected upon first hearing the title, it's actually quite a bittersweet song. Isaac (Slade, the band's lead singer/songwriter) explores the notion that we often hold ourselves back from happiness, because happiness is hard. Happiness is more often missing people than it is being with them. The things we want can be our own worst enemies. Happiness is work, and happiness is rewarding. The lyrics resonate with me because I tend to live in my own head, and I have trouble putting myself out there. I often regret saying 'no' to opportunities, but fear of success and fear of failure hold me back. But usually the things that make a lasting impression are the things I have to talk myself into. Sometimes, you need to squeeze your eyes closed and jump off a dock with both feet. You never know when the Blob is waiting for you at the bottom. (Awkward, forced childhood reference metaphor: check).
But back on topic:
During our weekly Thacker D vid chat last week, MC relayed some advice a friend had given her: "Live [where you are] like you're never going to leave." It was advice I needed, too, and I'm so glad she shared it with us. The story behind "Happiness" is similarly motivating. Isaac wrote the song for his grandfather, a widower who lives in a nursing home. As someone who often feels like she's stopped living at age 23, I can only imagine how difficult it would be to stay open to life's possibilites at 87. But ten years after losing his wife, the Fray frontrunner's patriarch met a gal and fell in love. "They went to the [nursing home] cafeteria and got soup, and about 3 months ago they got married."
Wow. If that's not the wake-up call I needed, I don't know what is.
Aside from containing a message that is essentially always relevant to my life, Isaac is just a stunning lyricist. The poet in me thrills and trills, weeps (metaphorically) and sleeps (literally; I can't tell you how many times this song has lulled me to sleep) to these words. "Happiness: damn near destroys you, is more like knocking, throws a shower of sparks, was never mine to hold, has a violent roar."
Here's what happiness looks like to me:
Happiness is Katelyn getting married;
Dottie, too (though she has to wait awhile).
And love is like a photo booth at a wedding,
glowing smiles as Liz restarts her life.
Happiness is photos stuck in pages,
memories scrawled in ink along the Book.
I miss our days sitting up in Thacker,
but Skype date nights feel almost quite as good.
I love the days my mom drives down from up-home;
better still when she brings a packed car.
I have friends here in Carolina,
but loves from home are always twice as good.
Happiness feels so elusive;
there are days I feel dull and alone.
Contentment springs from coffee sunshine mornings;
poetry makes me feel alive.
My heart stretches from Waco to Missouri--
a big pit stop in NASCAR Tennessee.
Movies, wine, KK-esque adventures:
life is love, and love is all of you.