I always smile a little bit more when I see miserable people
– they always remind me how ridiculous it is to not be happy.
I took a walk to the shops the other day and, seeing as
there was still daylight, I took the short cut through the park (at night it
converts into makeshift homeless housing and I don’t like to disturb meal times
because I know they don’t get much protein in their diets). I stopped to watch
the tiniest human running through clusters of pigeons. The birds would fluster a
couple of feet up in the air making her vanish in a cloud of feathers and then
settle down in circles around her again so that she  could do it again. And again. And again. Her
laughter filled even the furtherest corners of the park.
The little walk got me thinking about my happiest moments
[enter cloudy fade back walk down memory lane]…
At age 2, my
first ever memory, was sitting in the nurse’s office at the Joburg Gen hospital
waiting for my dad to finish surgery. The nurses all knew me well because I
apparently used to cry if dad didn’t take me in to work with him. It’s a very
bizarre memory because all I remember is kicking my legs back and forth and
humming quietly and a smiley nurse handing me a lemon cream. I was the happiest
kid south of the equator that day.
A few years later, at 8ish I think, after months of picking
up rusty coins on sidewalks and saving tuck shop money and money that was
probably meant to have been put in the offering basket at church, I remember calculating
that I finally had enough money saved to go to Gold Reef City – South Africa’s
best theme park (actually at that time I was pretty sure that I thought it to
be the world’s best theme park).  My
mother walked into my bedroom and told me she’d found the puppy she had
promised me for my last birthday and that on the weekend we could go to the
theme park with my two besties and collect my collie (who was to later to be
known as Frisbee). I spent the better part of an hour jumping up and down in
excitement. I didn’t have a care in the world.
So in all truth, I think this might have been a picture of Lassie, my brother’s dog… but picture a much cuter version of this guy!
…And then there was finally breaking free of high school… getting
my driver’s license and first car… the first [and only] time I got 100% for a
major varsity exam [without studying or caring that I hadn’t]… there was the
first full year I made it through without needing crutches…the first kiss…
The joy of almost beating a monk at am wrestling

The joys of time spent with good friends
The joys of hitch hiking

There were all the joys that came with the gypsy life… And
there was the inexplicable joy that came when, back in 2010, I accidently found
myself sitting on a plane home after years of being away. And even more joy
came as I touched down in Joburg and found my unsuspecting mother proudly waving
around a sign that read “Marijuana” expecting my Romanian friend instead of
myself.  We both cried and laughed at the
same time while airport security kept a vigilant watch from nearby.
You wouldn’t thin a mall airport sign could bring you to tears…

Reunioning with mum…
Last year in Vietnam I found myself alone, in the middle of
nowhere in the pouring rain. Visibility was so bad that I couldn’t see anything
and I’d almost had head on collisions with cars 3 times as I rode my trusty
scooter down what would have been a picturesque mountain pass had the weather
obliged. I stopped to have a quick break from uber concentration the road
demanded and then my bike wouldn’t start. I shed a couple of tears – but the
misery didn’t last very long because it suddenly dawned on me that I was in one
of the most beautiful places in the world in a culture I knew nothing about
with only a giant wet teddy bear for company and I burst out laughing because
that is exactly where I wanted to be – that sort of adventure was more than
most people even dream of.
The road out of Delat, Vietnam

Similarly, after abandoning our self-constructed raft in
Malaysia, after watching our hard work and many earthly belongings finding new
homes in the depth of the ocean, as we swam for hours to try and reach the
nearest shore – singing and laughing to distract ourselves from the harsh
reality that our lives were actually in very real danger – Happiness hit me
like a heard of frigid elephants: how many people get shipwrecked? How many
people ever get to swim for their lives? And I was in good company too – if I
was going to die (and I really really really didn’t want to), I couldn’t
imagine a better way to go about it.
While I cycled the 20+ km uphill to work on Saturday I first
got pinged by a horse carriage and then hit by a boat and again I burst out
laughing. The ridiculousness of having to work weekends for the foreseeable
future – of cycling ridiculous distances to a ridiculous job – and being
clipped by ridiculous vehicles that shouldn’t be on the road in the first place
made me look at life afresh again. There really is no point in being unhappy –
ever! – There is ALWAYS something to smile about!   
There’s no formula for happiness – it’s simply making the
most of where you are while you’re there. And changing your perspective. You
might be having a really bad day but if you look at it from a different angle
you might find you are exactly where you want to be. 

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