I was reading a Swedish mystery ( The Return by Hakan Nesser, very good). In it one of the characters opines
“ This second of absolute and perfect happiness _ one of ten to twelve that comprised a whole life and was possibly even the meaning of it….
Or so he understood it. If you have twelve treasured memories, his Uncle Arndt had once said as Munster sat on his knee, you will have led a happy life. But twelve is a high number. You will have to wait for quite a while before you can start collecting them.”
Only twelve ? In a whole life time? That is bleak indeed.
I suppose it all boils down to your definition of perfect happiness.
To me, it means a moment when I am totally in the present, with no worries about the future or regrets about the past. A moment when Time seems to stand still and I feel at one with everything. Such moments come without warning, without conscious effort on my part, and they do not often involve anything momentous.
A few months ago, my wife and I were having breakfast with her two sisters and their husbands. My brother-in- law T., was spreading jam on his toast as he told a joke and laughed his distinctive laugh. The thought suddenly flashed through my mind that there was nowhere else I would rather be at that moment, nothing that I would rather be doing. A serendipitious moment, if ever there was one.
Most such moments, at least in my experience, are solitary.
A few years ago, I had just attended my son’s graduation and I was helping him clean up his room prior to vacating it for good. Most of the cleaning was done, the rest of the family had already left for home and I was sitting on the stoop,taking a short break. As I sat there, pleasantly tired, looking at the tree lined street, thinking of nothing in particular, I suddenly realized that I was perfectly happy. It had nothing to do with the graduation or with my son’s achievements or future prospects; it’s that that moment somehow felt just right.
Other moments are even more mundane.
Waiting on the train station platform for my wife to return from a weeklong seminar in Johnstown Pa., the train is late but , as the minutes tick by I am not impatient. I am there on the station platform, observing the others who are also waiting for the train. And yet, I’m not there ; it’s almost as if I’m observing the scene from somewhere outside myself.
Another such moment. I’m at the opthamologist’s office. He is an elderly man whom I enjoying talking with and we have a pleasant conversation as he conducts the eye examination. He asks me to wait in the outer room and to choose the frame from among the samples displayed there while he settles the next patient in. I choose my frame quickly and look out the window at the pouring rain lashing the brick wall opposite. It’s cold outside but the room is warm and comfy and and , all of a sudden, I realise that it’s one of those moments. It lasts and lasts until he comes out and we decide on the frames…
There are more of these moments, certainly more than twelve, and they are locked away in my memory. Every now and then, I open my storehouse and bring one of them out and revel in it and it’s almost as good as the first time.
Isn’t it like that with you ?