One of the activities I engage in everyday when possible is a walk along the Tomebamba River near my home in Cuenca, Ecuador. During this walking meditation my mind wonders along with that of the river. I love the sound of water. When the river is high, it blocks out the sounds of the city and my mind transcends to other worlds while my feet remain firmly in contact with the cobblestoned path. This path for a little while becomes a Yellow Brick Road into my own thoughts and life.
The rushing waters of the Rio Tomebamba
in orchestration with the songs of unseen birds
overrides the bustling noises of the city.
I watch my body from above rambling down the
cobbled stone path oblivious to my absence.
I am a part of this beautiful web of silence.
The space where even thought does not enter.
Brought back into existence only by the
youthful screams of children playing on bicycles.
No silence on earth could mask such joy.
Random thoughts while I walk to The Roll of the Tomebamba.
I have wanted to write about happiness for a few day now, but I didn’t know what to say. I know happiness exists. I know it to be a major source of joy in my life. I know it exists as a part of my being. It is my general nature. I am happy when I wake up in the morning. What about you? Is happiness a universal state of being?
I found the answer to that question in a rather unusual manner. I was searching the internet for a dentist when I came across an Ecuadorian expat site. People from various states and nations were posting questions about living in Ecuador. One expat posted a copy of the video embedded below filmed in the city of Loja. Because I have been living in Fiji for the last four years, I have not had much exposure to American music so although I had heard of Pharrell Williams, I had not listened to his music until today. The song was named “Happy,” and apparently it was or perhaps still is a popular song. I played the video, and almost immediately received the answer to my question. Is happiness a universal state of being? Yes, it is.
In his song Pharrell singed the line, “Clap you hands if you know what ‘happiness’ is for you.” It was in the moment that I realized that although happiness is a universal condition, we each have different keys to unlocking it from inside of us. To some the key might be dancing. To someone else the key might be found in helping others, and to others it might be finding their soulmate. These keys are the common threads to unlocking happiness. Of course there are many more, but these are a few examples.
I believe happiness is a state of being, not a state of mind. One cannot will themselves to be happy. There are no “ten keys to happiness” or “five things you can do everyday to be happy.” We have all been hooked by these quick fixes to find whatever we are searching for. The internet is full of them. They all promise to help you reach your goal, no matter what that goal is. It could be to lose weight, gain an abdominal six-pack, or find the perfect mate. What most of us fail to understand is that happiness is not out there to be found no matter how much we search or pray. It is not in the purchase of a new “something,” or in that two week vacation you’ve been saving for all year. These are just fleeting moments of happiness in your life. They have no permanence. Happiness, however, is not fleeting because it is a state of being. It is an integral part of who you are, of who I am.
Although one may not necessarily be happy 24/7 and generally happiness is pleasurable, I don’t believe happiness is “elusive” or “the mere repetition of pleasure and avoidance of pain.” Happiness shares a duality with sadness. Only their triggers are different. It is the Buddha Nature. We all have it inside of us. It is part of our entelechy. It is as embedded in our being as life itself. The key is to allow it to unfold freely from within. Happiness is not exteriorly dependent. Happiness is the smile that appears on your face for no particular reason. Happiness if the energy of being alive bursting inside of you. Happiness is the joy of your soul awakening.
I challenge you to watch this video, We Are Happy From Loja, and not feel happiness bubbling up inside you.
I love the feeling when magic is inseparable
from life. All the elements are in play.
The ocean pulling silently upon sand.
The moon, though there, is invisible.
A wading bull seal watches his mate
posing statuesquely, upon dry shore.
We watch each other through a fog penetrable
only by interception of blue, brown eyes.
We accidentally seek, a soft touching of hands
before pulling and pulled into arms not our own.
The ocean roars, the sea gulls applaud.
Air, earth, fire and sea are in unison.
Sometimes it happens just so, and the joy
within us explodes, releasing this magic —
to live in that absence of space between us.