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Thursday, October 29, 2009


Some time back I watched a television program in which the idea of happiness was examined. There was some argument for an inherited aptitude for happiness in humans. It was an interesting idea, somewhat supported by my own experiences in an impromptu laboratory. I have been in jail for almost twenty years now, an officer with the opportunity to observe.

I tend to have a significant degree of circumspection in my life. I examine it constantly, assessing and evaluating and contemplating. Perhaps even obsessively. While I can point to many periods and even more moments of contentment, I cannot point to extended periods of happiness. I can point to even fewer periods (and even moments) of ecstasy, but I don't think that very many of us expect to be ecstatic most of the time.

Having observed humans for quite some time, many of whom were going through some of the lower periods in their lives, I can informally conclude that happiness is an occasional experience, at best. This is not a bad thing. Those who framed the Constitution recognized that the pursuit of happiness framed our lives, not the realization. It is a state to which we aspire, and as a consequence of our efforts many good things happen.

Today I experienced happiness. I was shopping at Safeway, receiving periodic messages from the family visiting Disneyland. I observed a number of big, burly daddies with their daughters, and then stepped outside into the sunshine. I loaded my groceries into the truck, responded to a message on my phone, looked around, and realized that I was happy.

For some reason I was just happy. I cannot say why. I know I was not ecstatic. I know I was more than content. I was happy. I was happy that my family was having a good experience. I was happy to be alive. I was just happy. It was nice, and it has lasted through the afternoon. I am delighted by that.

I have reviewed some blogs, edited some photos and albums. I have been content, and even happy. I have realized (fortunately not for the first time) that I have a very good life. I also realized that, should my life end soon, it has been disproportionately good.

In the context of the world, I have been lucky. In the context of my Christian faith, I have been blessed. Perhaps other contexts might give me another word or two, but the essence of my observations today is that I am happy.

I cannot discount my recent decision to retire from Corrections. I get out of jail on February 5, 2010. This decision may well have opened my capacity for happiness. Jail is a hard place to live, and I can easily see forces contrary to happiness working there. Yes, that decision may well have liberated my psyche to be happy.

My hope is that my days may be long on the Earth. I am content in the belief that I have done some good in my life, and that I have executed my responsibilities with honor. I have known love and have loved others.

Today I declare that life is good, and that I have attained (at least for a time) a state of happiness. In this moment I can thank God and my fellow humans for all of the good I have known, and cast behind me all of the evil I have known.

Will this last? Of course not. Life and all of its elements are transient.

That is what makes moments like these precious.

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