As I wait for winter to end, I spend a lot of time looking out the window, which overlooks a vast open space of farm fields, hedgerows, and distant bluish hills. It’s a daily occurrence to see wildlife of some kind traipsing through the fields: geese, deer, groundhogs, turkeys and foxes.
I keep a camera handy just in case I see something good. I admit that I haven’t taken any pictures of groundhogs, and the deer are so common that I will hardly ever photograph them. But foxes are a different story. If the fox is close enough and if it’s light enough outside, I will almost always snap some shots of the fox.
Lately the foxes I’ve been seeing have been a little odd.
This one is missing all the fur on its tail.
And this one has only three legs.
As long as these foxes keep my garden free of little veggie-eating critters, I don’t care what their tails look like or how many legs that have. For more info on foxes, go here: organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/red-fox
I think I figured out what my problem is.
This morning, as I walked through the parking lot, thinking of all the meetings I have today, all the work I need to get done, all the videos I need to make—not to mention everything we have going on at home—having a baby, trying to buy a house, trying to get a handle on the laundry and the bills—I saw a car parked near the building. It was probably a Volvo, maybe a Saab.
It had a little plastic decorative border around the license plate that said:
Happiness is being Swedish.
That’s it, I thought. That’s my problem. I’m not Swedish. Of northern European decent, sure, but definitely not Swedish. But perhaps, if I could find a way to be Swedish, all my problems would be solved, all my prayers would be answered, and I would find happiness.
But the sudden realization that I could never be Swedish—barring actually giving up my citizenship and moving to Sweden (which I’d never do)—made me sad. Not only did I have a lot of work to do at home and at work, but now I was excluded from what I thought was some kind of inalienable right: Happiness, or at least the pursuit of it. But if happiness is unattainable due to my not being Swedish, then wouldn’t the pursuit of it just be a pointless exercise? A complete waste of time? Wow, that’s heavy burden, especially for a Monday.
But then I remembered two things:
1. When I was 14 years old, I learned how to screen print, and I started my own t-shirt business in the basement of my parents’ house. I sold shirts to kids at school and also made shirts for myself. You could say I had a custom, small batch print shop. Anyway, one of the shirts I made for myself said: Happiness is not a goal—it’s a by-product.
I’ll say it again: Happiness is not a goal—it’s a by-product.
2. It’s Plastic-Free February at here Rodale, which means I can safely ignore the Swedish Happiness equation—it was just a stupid piece of plastic around a license plate!
And so it goes…