Wake up, walk dog, deal with the emails over coffee… head to work. My mind wanted to be anywhere other than focussed on the day ahead, and I allowed it to wander.
I caught sight of a young man on a motorbike, convinced for a moment that it was my younger son, even though I knew that was impossible. Fifteen years a biker, he had sold the cherished beast when he was expecting his second daughter in order to buy a sensible, family car. He had done so without a backward glance or the least regret, because his little family is his world.
I probably had more regrets about the sale of that bike than he did. I knew how much he missed riding. It was part of him and lifted his spirits like nothing else… except his daughters and they will always come first. He had done the right thing and, perhaps, one day he would get a new bike. Maybe even the R6 he had wanted. If only I could win that lottery I don’t play or… Shaking off the daydreams, I arrived at work. I wasn’t looking forward to the day.
Windy, wintry weather is not ideal for playing with cold water outdoors… and cleaning humungous hot tubs and pond pumps are not my favourite jobs at the best of times. Being already soaked by the time I had finished, I thought I might as well wash the car too. It was going to rain anyway so, this time, at least, I couldn’t be blamed for the weather.
I was not a happy bunny, but while I was outside freezing, a pair of red kites wheeled low overhead, then soared and tumbled in their mating dance. As I looked up to watch, I saw the resident wren hopping around in the rose bush and noticed the new growth of leaves. There was even a flower bud swelling, for all the world as if spring had already been and gone. My friendly robin began our daily conversation, sitting close to me on the fence and singing, leaving gaps for me to respond and imitating my calls. I still wonder what we are saying to each other, but I can’t be insulting him as he comes back every day for more.
Once more indoors, I laughed with my eldest son as nostalgia brought a tear to his eye as he heard a theme tune play. It was one of those tunes that have so many associations that you could never unravel them and pinpoint the reason why it moves you so. But it does, and the shared moment means you do not need to ask.
Then there was a call from my younger son who needed a lift. I had been planning on calling there anyway to see my granddaughters. The eldest did not notice me arrive and her face when she looked up to find grandma watching her was a picture. The younger one is all eyes and mischief as she discovers the world and is a delight. We went out into the garden, so they could play on the trampoline, and I watched them collapse into giggles together. I left them to it after a while and they played while I watched from the warm, talking to my son’s partner and reminiscing.
It was odd, but we were both of us thinking about the little ones eyes. She has her father’s big, brown eyes and we were both carried back to a hospital ward, nearly ten years ago now, when those eyes moved all who saw them, as he watched over his elder brother, who was fighting his way free of the coma in which he had been left. The memory of those eyes and that smile will always haunt and move me.
Eventually, I packed my son and his gear into the car for the lift to his workplace. As we drove, we saw the first daffodil in flower. There was a buzzard on the fence at the side of the road and a heron in the grass. And my son had a note in his voice that I hadn’t heard there for a long time.
I realised that the bitterly cold day, in spite of the pall of grey clouds, had produced its own kind of sunshine and magic. It was a day of little things, as most days are… each one so small that alone they might hold no importance, but together they create something greater than the sum of their parts. Where I had begun the day in a state of frozen gloom, I was now happy.
Joy is a state of being rather than a state of mind… and that stays with you, underpinning all the moments and emotions, happy or sad. Happiness is seldom a lasting emotion, for all we are encouraged to chase it and have come to see it as something to which we ought to be entitled. It is just the peak of the mountain… and it is all uphill until you reach and can enjoy it, knowing that it will soon be all downhill again, until you climb to the next peak.
I was keenly aware that the more open you are to the world, its small gifts and the people around you, the more peaks you are likely to see. The valleys in between then become no more than a time to catch your breath, and the contrast that allows the golden moments to shine. The unpromising beginning had become a string of golden moments, each one almost insignificant on its own, yet together they were magical and changed the whole feeling of the day.
My son had been saving for a long time. His leathers are musty with disuse, his helmet is mildewed and the ‘new’ bike needs work… but the look on his face as he wheeled out the R6 was priceless.
“I’ll take it straight home.”
“The long way?”
“No…” he sighed, “straight home.”
I watched, from way behind and through rather teary eyes, as a very happy young man disappeared into the distance, making an ‘unexpected’ turn… and taking the long way home.
Happiness lets the heart spread its wings. It comes most often from the little things in life… the everyday things… from moments shared and speaking eyes. I dried mine and drove home, smiling.