Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Just a cracker


The contents of this blog post is as philosophical and reflective as I get so welcome to the deep end of the pool... Many people will see my thoughts and pondering as merely wading into the turtle pool, but there is nothing more core to who I am than the pursuit of happiness.

I'll start with this discovery: Babies are meant to show us what true happiness is.

I drifted away from "true" happiness back in high school (from what I can remember). Somewhere along the way the concept of happiness itself has morphed into something unattainable; something illusive that is usually instantaneous and then evaporates like mist from a spray bottle. Ok, enough introduction. Let me show you exhibit "A":

This is Easton. He is sitting on a 2-foot tall slide with a graham cracker just before bed time. Here is a close up of his face to zoom in on his bright eyes, wide smile, and drool (oh wait, the drool is from teething):

When is the last time you were THIS happy? I've looked at the picture many times over the past few days. Studying, reflecting, questioning.

I'm almost a little jealous of Easton. He laughed, smiled often, and nibbled on his cracker with genuine enjoyment! He doesn't search for happiness; He IS happiness. He displays it in simple things like dancing (which is really just bobbing up and down) or making a silly noise with his mouth. Even saying the word "naked" after bath time invokes a 5 minute giggle-fest and running around the bedroom repeatedly saying, "Nay-naaay" (Easton and Layla's word for naked).

There are many aspects of happiness I somehow lost along the way unintentionally. Imagination, contentment, simplicity, forgiveness, trust. Easton and Layla are FULL of these things and I love to watch them share those wonderful qualities through interactions with each other Kendra and I. If I listed my "expectations" of having children, the thought of my babies teaching ME about life would have been down at the bottom. I thought mostly of teaching them the details of life and social skills and God. Now I am finding I should focus on NOT transferring my materialist definition of happiness that has been reduced to a "threadbare simulacrum of shopping, buying and owning" (see footnote at the bottom for the reference).

There is a web page, really it is an ebook or long article, where the author explains happiness in a way that makes sense to me. Click here to be linked to the article and scroll waaaaaaay down to "Chapter Seventeen: The Structure of Happiness" at the bottom. My disclaimer is this: I don't know who this guy is and I don't support or agree with aspects of his doomsday Great Transformation so don't judge me based on his views, ok? Here's an excerpt of the section I found most intriguing:

-- An experience-based understanding of happiness is ontologically structured around the experiences of well-being, warmth and satisfaction offered by true friendship, accomplishment, generosity, romantic and spiritual love and the humility of worship. The acquisition of externalities and superficial markers has no place in this understanding.

In a parallel fashion, an independently constructed sense of self--what we term an individual's identity--grows from humility, self-knowledge and the strength of personal integrity, not from an illusory simulacrum [similarity] of identity conjured by pronouncements ("I am a member of...") and possessions.

Indeed, all that is truly valuable in one's self and identity can never be taken away or even diminished: integrity, experience, self-knowledge and humility.

Rather than accept the derealizing, dehumanizing reduction to passive consumer, the individual seeking internal and external liberation must renounce the impoverishment of "consumer" and embrace the power of a citizen's independently constructed sense of self. --

I understand my identity is fully based on principles from God, but we are IN this world and must function throughout life as we interact with it. There is so much for me to learn from Easton and Layla. My desire is to live more like them and still keep my job. :)

May you find happiness in a cracker.


Anonymous said...

I love getting to know you better each day Bronson. Being transparent is a beautiful thing and I love you more and more for it. Thanks for wanting to learn how to love God, my grandkids and daughter more every day. Your life will be enriched beyond your wildest dreams as you surrender to God's love, Kendra's love and Easton and Layla's love!

aunt joanie said...

Agree. I would like to add to the list, however:
Sense of self grows from
experience----(WHAT I CAN DO MYSELF and WHAT I FIND THRILLING), instead of What someone admires me for..such as a generic BEST Student of the month certificate.

aunt joanie said...

You will see your kiddos gaining pure happiness in their firsts: First time to go down the big slide. First time to ride a bike. First time to do the monkey bars. First real friend. First allowance earned. First performance in front of a crowd. All of these personal accomplishments and experiences produce "sense of self"--what I'm good at, who I am, how I define life separately from others. Adults seek it in THINGS, PEOPLE, and CAREERS. You're right. Happiness is in a cracker and the simple miracles of the day. Got my grahams out!

The Four Webbs said...

Thanks for the thoughts, Oma. Our full-evening conversations and playtime with the twins over the past few weeks has been a blast.

joanie, I'm still waiting for my first "best student of the month" certificate, smarty pants. :) I agree, it is fun to see our babies experience those "firsts" of a toddler's life.