Editor’s Column: The pursuit of happiness

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“ I just want you to be happy.” It’s the fallback statement for everyone who has ever loved someonemug2016_2 unconditionally. It’s what parents tell their angst-ridden teenagers, it’s what you tell your spouse when he or she is miserable for whatever reason. It’s what you want for the people you care about, and it’s what you want for yourself. You just want to be happy, however you define that odd and intangible word.
Our founding fathers understood the intangibility of happiness when they wrote the Declaration of Independence and listed “the pursuit of happiness” as one of three human rights which cannot and should not be taken away. “Life” is fairly easy to understand, “liberty” equally so, but even the founding fathers could only describe “the pursuit of” happiness.
Happiness must be pursued, continually. It doesn’t just happen, it’s a choice, an active attitude of acceptance of facts and situations as they are, not as you want them to be.
As I walked to work Monday I was cold, tired and had blisters on my heels from a New Year’s Eve snowshoeing excursion. About halfway between home and office I noticed birds overhead. At first I thought they were just our nasty turkey vultures returning to their roosts, but they had white tails. I watched a bit longer. A pair of bald eagles, circling, spinning, before they headed back toward the river. It was a moment of “happy” I recognized and carried with me to the office. Oddly, my January calendar picture is of two bald eagles.
Maybe so many people are discontented and disillusioned because we’ve tried to define happiness as a consistent state of being when it’s actually a disjointed series of moments when we are aware of our surroundings. We’ve limited our happiness to the end result: reaching the goal, crossing the finish line, achieving the dream. Perhaps happiness isn’t writing “the end” on a goal, perhaps it’s the moments along the way.
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My husband and I headed up County Road 8 on New Year’s. We checked out snowshoes at the rec center, something neither of us had ever tried before, and headed for Marvine Creek and the yurt. It’s about a mile and a half each way from the parking area. (I’ll be refilling the moleskin supply in the yurt’s first aid kit on our next venture.)
What a unique little excursion we have available, just miles away. It’s worth the trip. Kudos to the White River Nordic Council. You do good work.