Skipping Stones

Some people like to window shop. I never was much into just looking into the windows. As far as I’m concerned, except maybe during the holidays with all the animated windows in New York City, the best part is inside the big swinging doors. Each isle, each floor is an exciting adventure. The noise, the aromas and the colors of all the merchandise – that’s part of the pleasure. Why just look at a package unopened? To me window shoppers are missing the best part.

This is true with life as well. Looking through the windows from the outside without experiencing, seeing and tasting all of the richness and excitement it brings. Not just seeing, but looking at the glass half full instead of half empty. Never failures, but challenges instead. Watching the door close behind you and stepping through to something you know will be even better.

It is said in relationships it is common for opposites to attract. My husband and I are living proof of that old adage. I can honestly say we are as different as night and day. I have lived the past 30 years married to a window shopper. His ability to live the fullness and richness of his 88 years has always been elusive to him. He has never been able to open the doors and step through to see the surprises that are inside, beyond those windows.

Until the day they died my husband’s mother and her brother both confessed that they never had a happy day in their lives. They each had the ability to dwell not on happiness, but on one misery after the other.

I have always been fascinated about whether or not we are born with a proclivity toward being happy, or not. In the book The How of Happiness by Sonya Lyubimirsky, the premise of the book is that we all have a setpoint for happiness. To override a low set point, one needs strong self-discipline. My question is, we are all unique individuals, no two of us are alike, so therefore, perhaps one’s happiness is unique unto themselves. Different set-points.

For instance, my husband’s weekend happiness is walking the dogs in the morning from Chelsea through the West Village and home again, stop and buy bagels on the way home and have coffee and bagels at the house.

On the other hand, that same journey that would bring happiness to me would be to walk the dogs from Chelsea to the Village, find a nice little outdoor coffeehouse sit and have coffee and a croissant, enjoy good conversation, watch the people walking by, and then return back to the apartment after exercise and good food and conversation.

My happiness is not peeping through the windows watching other people have a good time, but opening the door and enjoying the life that is inside those doors.

Now just because his happiness and my happiness have two different meanings, does that mean that his is wrong and mine is right, or mine is wrong and his is the right happiness?

My husband skips stones across the water. I jump in with both feet. He stays dry and I am soaking wet.

Together we have cruised the world four times for a total of 456 days. For me it was the joy of soaking in and absorbing the experiences and cultures of the world. For him it was the happiness of 1,368 gourmet meals aboard ship that were prepaid.

Think about it. In reality, if I forced him to always participate in my happiness he would be miserable.

I understand that because until I started to find and own my definition of happiness within the relationship, I felt denied of what I perceived was my deserved happiness.

It’s not all about him and it’s not all about me, it’s about sometimes window shopping and sometimes opening the doors. Sometimes skipping stones and sometimes jumping in with both feet. It’s about one heart with the left ventricle and the right ventricle beating at different times, yet in sync giving life to the whole.

So I guess what I’m saying is I am happy to fill the half empty glass he sees in life.

Copyright Sandra Hart 2014. All rights reserved. Myartisansway Press