... I stumbled upon this picture of my favorite one while looking through some old photo albums, and well, after the events in the past few days it sure did get me thinking. Two minorly-major things have been occupying my time over the past few days. I have been reading the book The Happiness Project like my life depends on it, and I had lunch with a childhood friend, who I recently reconnected with. Both of these (and this lovely blue door) have given me a serious jolt of "get up please, and do something that makes you just plain feel good" energy.
The Happiness Project, again one of my Readers-Digest synopsis, is about a woman (Gretchen Rubin) who spends a year trying to change small and big pieces of her life to make herself, and others around her- happier. She does everything from be more diligent in acknowledging other's birthdays to starting a collection of all things bluebird related. She breaks her project down into tangible topics, and then further into realistic goals. Her dedication and passion for the project are awesome. And while I didn't intend for this to sound like some cheap magazine book review, that seems to be the only way I can get around to saying- "reading this book makes me think about my own happiness," which is precisely what it sets out to do.
With all this thought of happiness and change looming in the mid-morning fog of my mind, I was more excited than ever to meet up with a childhood friend who I haven't seen since college began. We reconnected, and after a few quick catch up e-mails we decided a proper lunch was in order. I'll admit, I was certainly nervous for the meeting after hearing about her newfound spirituality, her changed beliefs, and her impending marriage. But the day turned out to be just perfect. After we spent hours in her kitchen chatting and eating, we moved to the living room where I reacquainted myself with her family, and we watched the afternoon fade into evening walking around a gem of a park where the cool breeze and the warm sunshine matched the mood of our day: gentle and welcoming, rekindling of friendship. No one was more surprised than the two of us, that after all the time that had passed and all the turns life took us on over the years, somehow we ended up walking in the same park, at the same time, side by side-like nothing had changed. We shared stories of the things each-other had missed, sometimes with an eager smile and other times with a cautious tone, we laughed and we sat in silence. And we drank in the afternoon realizing that no matter what poured out of ones heart, the other was there to gently catch and accept it. It took a great bit of effort to not go huddle in her house with a bowl of ice cream, a cup of tea, and a good movie to greet the night, like we did so many times as children.
After a day of filling my happiness cup to the brim, I came home to shuffle through some old photos when I stumbled upon the door. Stuffed in among pictures of chocolate covered siblings, family members lined up in a row, and christmas trees perched in front of dark windows, I found a stack of photos of beach trips, diner runs, and main street nights with friends, that all tugged on my heart strings. Sifting through the photos brought both a smile to my face and a sting in my heart. I sat there realizing many of the friends in the photos I would call up and laugh with about the strange outfits they wore, the big bite of pancake they tried to stuff in their mouth, or how the photos captured that they made that same face, even then. But then there were other friends. Friends with new phone numbers, new homes, and new direction, that I wouldn't call. Friends who wouldn't get to hear that I found a picture of the door we often passed on our way to one of our favorite "spots." Knowing that they were the ones pulling on those heart strings would just have to do.
My mood began to fall, and my happiness cup began to tip as I realized just how long the last four years have been. I had spent all day sharing stories with an old friend that she had never heard before. We missed so much of each-other, and I didn't love feeling that I'd missed just as much in other friends lives. The bridge between high school and early-adulthood is fun and exciting- but it is also terribly long. And when you get to the other side only to realize that your closest friends crossed different bridges, maybe even arrived on different unreachable islands, it can be a terribly unsettling feeling. At this point, all I wanted was to turn around and run back over to the other side of that bridge, gather up all of my closest friends, and cross together- arm in arm, to be sure we wouldn't loose sight of one another's journey. Naturally, thats not even close to possible; and even if it was, crossing together would mean we wouldn't have the memories and experiences that we gained on the long journey we already traveled. And if this is all starting to seem as jumbled and contradictory to you as it did to me, you will be happy to know at this point I walked right into a lovely epiphany.
Boats. There are boats in this world! And do you know what boats can do? They have the wondrous ability to brave deep and dangerous waters, and frightening and foreign creatures, to arrive at other islands. Other islands that might just be housing those long lost friends who crossed their own bridges and have their own stories to tell. It was then that I jumbled The Happiness Project, that perfect afternoon, and the photo of the door into one big ball in my mind and I realized that maybe reconnecting with old friends is not some impossible task. Maybe I can have more heavenly afternoons wandering parks and catching stories, and maybe all it takes is a few goals, an e-mail, and heart-stinging photo or two. All I can hope is that when my boat hits the shores of such foreign places I will be welcomed with open arms. I hope that when I show up with tales to tell, photos to share, and eager to listen, the islands inhabiters will be as glad to see me pop-up in their inbox, as I would be to see them in mine. And maybe, just maybe, once I arrive we can set out on foot, or in lovely kayaks, to gaze at the shores of other islands all around while filling our happiness cups to the brim.
And well, there is no better time to set sail then the present.