Monday, June 30, 2008

How I Spend My Days in Vermont:

The cool breeze that makes the silver leaves of our ancient cottonwood trees dance.

The succession of wildflowers in the pasture, from dandelions to buttercups and onward to vetch, clover (red and white), milkweed and chicory.

The storm clouds that roll in over the lake, casting a blue hue on the mountains beneath them. And the pure white light that finds an opening in the clouds making even the green grass look golden.

The smell of wet earth during yet another rain shower.

Each day that I'm here, our small mountains grow bigger in my mind. The beauty of the landscape and my gratitude for it is deepening its mark on my heart. I will appreciate it now while I'm here. And I will change as it changes. As we change each other.

This is my lesson in not taking things for granted.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

On a lighter note...

Goat kids!

Today I watched one of our goats, Dandy, give birth. She was fast! She was amazing! She was sweet! And the kid is so freakin' cute...

And then I milked her and her mommy friend, Feta... goat cheese anyone?

Goats. Definitely the best part of my job.

So I realize that this is a "public forum"...

But If you don't like my writing, or find it depressing... Why do you bother to read?

I'm not really writing about political things right now. I'm writing about my feelings. It's how I feel. And as such, it's not really debatable. And if you don't agree with me, guess what? I don't really care about how you feel about my feelings. Unless I know you, in which case it's obviously different. If I was looking to improve myself, I wouldn't be whining away on this forum, I would be in therapy, which, of course, I'm not denying that I need.

So if you don't have something nice to say to me, keep it to yourself. Unless you want to identify yourself (notice my comment settings have changed).

Hey, I realize the comments that anonymous wrote and I deleted weren't actually that offensive. But since I've made this my little space on the internet, I get to decide if your opinion counts. And I've decided that it doesn't. Unless I know you.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Are you happy yet?

How 'bout now?

This is a question I've encountered a lot since my return from Korea. Am I happy? Well, if happiness is a relative state, I guess I can say the answer is yes. I am happy. Err... I am happier than when I was in Korea. Because there I was definitely unhappy. That seems so much easier to define.

Okay. So wait. Is happiness, in fact, a relative measure? Is it defined more or less in opposition to not-so-happy feelings? Is happiness the negative space (or should I say the positive space?) which surrounds sadness, angst, stress, anger... Because although I am not sad, angsty, stressed nor angry, neither am I happy. But I'm not unhappy.

It seems that happiness arrives in fleeting moments and often occurs only in retrospect. It's not that I don't enjoy many of the things I do, but do I recognize that joy in the moment? Or does it only occur to me as an afterthought? Or in contrast to some other experience or moment in time?

Or is happiness a feeling of contentment? The feeling that all is right with the world? Does it feel like the gods are smiling on you? Maybe like nothing can go wrong?

Does anyone in this country really feel happy? Really?

I have struggled with the concept of happiness for a long time. I don't always know how to recognize it when I have it. I often long for it, but when I think I have it, I feel uncomfortable- but not because I think it'll slip away too quickly. On the contrary, I feel bored with the contentment and long for a challenge, a struggle- something that will unsettle me.

And it's not as though I don't believe in my own happiness. I do. But I guess it's the fact that I believe in the happiness of everyone else-I am talking about on a global level- which motivates me to question my own right to contentment. I know, the Founding Fathers laid out our rights to the pursuit of happiness a couple of hundred years ago. But what if that pursuit impedes another's happiness? And what if, only by virtue of being An American, I am impeding the happiness of millions or billions just by pursuing my American version of happiness- even a modest one?

Hey this is not guilt I'm talking about. I'm talking about our responsibility. To each other. To challenge ourselves to think about our happiness and our contentment and wonder, "how does my happiness affect other people in my world?"

So in the context of "the greater happiness," I guess one could say that I'm making uncomfortably happy my goal. But I don't know if I'll ever be aware that I've reached that goal. And I'm not sure how I would define my state of happiness now, except to say that well, I'm not depressed...