A moment of happiness
When I was a young woman living in Brooklyn my dad and I started a drama group to give talented young teens an opportunity to showcase their gifts. The group was called The Teen Workshop. My dad worked with the Police Athletic League to create marketing campaigns to reach out to neighborhood kids and invite them to join our group. The Police Athletic League is a wonderful organization that mentors young people.
I wrote the shows, did the casting, and ran the rehearsals. We performed in hospitals and nursing homes to bring some joy to the patients and residents. I’ll never forget watching the kids walking through the hallways singing their hearts out, with tears streaming down their faces. We were there to entertain and the reaction, especially from the senior citizens, was so touching that it was impossible not to be moved to tears.
During this time my dad and I really bonded. We were both rather excommunicated from my mother, who didn’t understand why we invested so much time and energy in a project that wasn’t putting money in our pockets. She made it clear that she didn’t want to be involved. One time when we were desperate because someone was sick my mother agreed to work the lights for the performance that day. She reminded us of her sacrifice often.
My dad was orphaned at a young age. His parents died in the 1918 flu epidemic and he and his siblings were placed in an orphanage. He had a hard, unhappy childhood. As an adult my dad sought happiness in the small things that surround most of us every day.
One day as we were walking down the street we passed a woman pushing a baby carriage. Suddenly my dad stopped walking and turned to me and said “Did you see what just happened”? “No dad, what just happened?” He continued, “That baby just smiled at me.” I replied tentatively “OK”, not really understanding the significance of this event. He continued, “That was a moment of happiness.” “I just experienced a moment of happiness.”
At some point within the next few minutes my dad made the following statement, although I don’t remember his exact words, and I don’t even know if he wrote these words or if they were words he read and wanted to share with me:
Happiness isn’t money in the bank, a car in the garage, or a diamond ring. Happiness is the small momentary pleasures most of us experience throughout the day and fail to recognize.
It’s funny how we pick and choose what we remember from our childhood. I remembered my dad’s words and tried to live them throughout my life but failed terribly most of the time. But we’re never to old to learn, and we’re never too old to grow, and we’re never too old to revisit lessons from the past and cast them in a new light.