129. the hard work of happiness

It takes vigilance, discipline. It takes speed – squashing negative thoughts as they appear. Sometimes it takes ingenuity – finding a way to think of something else, something other than what’s frustrating or humiliating or just plain depressing.

It takes prayer and for me (for whom prayer never came easy), prayer takes the form of stubbornly repeating the phrase, “Lord, I need you, please help me.” The way I do it, it’s the equivalent of sticking my fingers in my ear and yelling, “la la la la la,” the way you do when you don’t want to pay attention to someone. I don’t know if what I do even counts as prayer, but sometimes it’s all I can do to keep the hounds at bay.

It takes a good book. I’m in the middle of two right now: Tooth and Claw: and Other Stories by T.C. Boyle and The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell.

It takes good music. I’m on a classical music binge. Frequently played works on my iPod: Dvorak: Symphony no. 9 “From the New World” and the stunningly, amazingly beautiful Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.

It takes a good game of chess, although I’m not doing very well. I’m back down to 1181 (blah).

They don’t tell you happiness is hard work, but it is, but I’m working at it. I wouldn’t say I’m exactly happy, but it’s something better than where I was earlier in the week, and I suppose that’s a start. Hanging on to this positive start is like trying to climb a greased pole – it takes tenacity, and grip, and hope. It’s like salmon swimming upstream, soldiers trying to storm the beach at Normandy, butterflies building a storm by flapping their wings. It seems impossible but it’s been done.

God give me strength.

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