The Time to be Happy is Now!

Every Christmas, I make it down to the basement, haul up three boxes and go about the task of decorating my home. As I unwrap the santas and snowmen, the handmade ornaments made by my son as a child, nostalgia is always a part of the process. At the bottom of one of the boxes, inevitably, I will reach one of the items most meaningful to me. As I take it gently out of its wrapping and set it on a plate stand on the shelf above my washer and dryer, I again  gaze at it and give myself the luxury of a few minutes to read and reflect on its beauty and its meaning. At the center of the decorative plate is a lovely evergreen tree, outside somewhere, with two bright red cardinals, on the branches. On either side of the tree are a little boy and a little girl happily playing, skipping around the tree.  Over the top of the plate is a saying: The Time to be Happy is Now. Below is the inscription:  Christmas 1973. I live in a town which has a bunch of antique stares around an old-fashioned Square. I found the plate at one of the shops at the Washington Square. At the time when I found it, I was in a job which totally met my qualifications and experience in every way.  And I was miserable. The reasons are too numerous to enumerate here. I was in middle management, I felt besieged, with support neither from the top nor from the staff I supervised.  On top of that, I had a young son in day care. The daycare was in my building but I could not help feeling I was short-changing him as well as feeling miserable in my job. Soon thereafter, I resigned from that position – not taking a full-time position after that for many years. Over the years, I have explored a variety of other fields. I leveraged my expertise in special needs to start a school for children with special needs in India, and a not-for profit foundation here in USA to support it.  I pursued my long-time interest in gardening, by involving myself in a local garden club and became a Master Gardener, and worked on many associated projects. I involved myself in many activities in my son’s school, and in the community. I went back to my early love and interest in writing – and, this year, finally published my first book of fiction. Would I have done all of these things, if I had not taken the step I did?  Perhaps it was not the career I had anticipated. Whether it was the best use of my time or not – I was being true to that saying and being happy in the now. Every year, at least once a year, I reflect on the saying on that plate, as I set it out for the season. I know some might say that many of us cannot afford the luxury of thinking of happiness. But truly what is the point of living any other way? The only time that each of us has is Now isn’t it? I hesitate to say this for fear that some might think I am advocating hedonism – an eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we may die sort of thing. That is not what I am advocating. I ask you to think of this – are you happy now? Be honest as you answer this. Perhaps you are in a relationship that is shaky. Perhaps you feel you should be spending more time with someone; your child, your mother or your significant other. What are you waiting for?  The thing about time is that it is moving for everyone. If you put this off, will there still be time for you or them tomorrow? There are no guarantees. This is a reflection about time as much as it is about happiness. There are friends who I lost touch with because I was too busy, I would catch up with them later, I thought. But later has been too late. Children cannot wait – if you wait for later, they have changed. You have lost that opportunity – that time you had which you spent on something else. As we approach the end of the year, perhaps you have a few hours or even a few minutes for yourself. As you go through your day, baking cookies, shopping for gifts and then wrapping them, I give you this little gift: The Time to Be Happy is Now! Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year !!

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