Sunday morning, I asked for something extraordinary.
Not a raise, not a negotiated car payment, not a voyeuristic dinner with J.D. Salinger's widow. Even better: a quick and easy pathway to a happy, happy Sunday.
I picked up my cell phone, dialed a new friend's phone number, and asked if she'd like to have an impromptu coffee. She's my next door neighbor, and we instantly hit it off when she moved in a few months ago. And -- to my utter shock and delight -- I found out she has been reading The Daily Asker without knowing I'm writing it! What a small world. At a gathering I hosted a few weeks ago, someone mentioned my blog and she turned to face me. "YOU'RE La Roxy!?? What?! I had no idea!!" We both started laughing and since then I've been excited and slightly paranoid -- in a good way. Is my doctor reading this? My waiter? That literary agent sitting two rows ahead on the airplane? A girl can dream, right? ;)
Anyway, she said yes to my suggestion and we ended up at Lei Lounge, a Hawaiian themed restaurant, for brunch. When drinks are $3 and you're sitting under a tropical umbrella, it would be criminal to order the house coffee. Especially if it's not yet noon. Thus I had a guava champagne cocktail, she had an almond mai tai and we toasted. To everything, darling!
The moment reminded me of advice my grandmother, Tzushy, recently gave me:
"Are you happy? Do what makes you happy."
Tzushy knows exactly what's going on in my deepest heart. Even from the "hello?" uttered into a cell phone at a noisy intersection, she can tell if I'm rested, tired, worried, serene, stressed, hungry. She just knows. These past weeks she has registered my anxiety better then I could: I'm about to finish graduate school, and I've been faced with big decisions that will shape how I'll spend my waking minutes now and, consequently, how next decade could look.
So she gave me this advice: Do what makes you happy.
In matters big and small, do what makes you happy.
I think I'm starting to get it.
I started this writing business venture. I'm getting enough sleep. I'm definitely smiling more.
More often than not, you see, I believe I'm not doing enough: not reaching far enough, not achieving enough, not asking for enough. I'm not unduly hard on myself; I definitely keep things in perspective, kick my feet up and relax. Yet that impulse to analyse, optimize and self-interrogate is a steady undercurrent, surfacing the moment I need it most, pushing me to do more and better than I might have otherwise.
That's all fine and dandy. But what I also need to learn is how to avoid getting burdened by situations that are more complicated than they need to be. How to cut out unpleasant experiences and interactions unless they're necessary. How to simplify, cull, prioritize. And how to make serenity, and not stress, my default mode.
I like this litmus test: Will it make me happy?
If so, go for it. If not, think twice. Maybe it's necessary, maybe it's a small discomfort for a larger benefit for me or someone I care about, down the line. Or maybe it's just bullshit.
Seeing my friend for a sunny Sunday brunch made me very happy indeed.
All it took was a simple question: Wanna grab coffee this morning? And the willingness to reeeelaaaax.
[image via mike's journal]