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On Finding Happiness – For The Love Of A Child

December 16th, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

I’m not feeling the greatest or happiest today. My stomach is all in knots, my head hurts and my back is stiff and sore. Maybe the coffee is too strong or I need to put some cream in it. Perhaps I just need to go on a walk, breathe in some fresh air and give my legs a good stretch. Whatever it is, I am not feeling the best and I do not feel like my day is off to a good start.

It makes me wonder; how will I turn this day around and make it a better day? A more prosperous day? A more fulfilling day? Do I need to reach out to someone in my network and await a motivating, hopefully positive response? If I do, I hope the response will be full and long – it will give me something to read and occupy part of my time.

Reading is a lot about that. Occupying your time with an activity. You scan the lines, ingest the information and turn the pages. It isn’t rocket science. A writer is conveying a message to you and you are reading it. Does reading increase feelings of happiness? That’s a tough question. For some people it does and for other people it’s just another activity to eat up time. A person may read a book with absolutely no enjoyment simply because they want to put in part of the day.

But I digress. I’m trying to increase feelings of happiness and meaning. Right now, I’m attempting to do that through writing. Line by line, I hope to make myself feel better. What lines will I write though that will make me feel better? At this point it is undetermined.

My thoughts often shift to my beautiful daughter. She is 5 years old now and I only see her about 3-4 times a year. She lives in San Diego, California. That’s right, she lives in Southern California, born at La Jolla Memorial hospital on Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009 at approximately 2:24pm in the afternoon. I used to be with her every day, 12 hours a day until she enrolled in Montessori school and my wife and I went through an amicable divorce.

There was a reason I got to spend so much time with my daughter when she was very young. My X-wife had to go back to work when Justine was just 6 months old. Not only that, Sunday (my X-wife) had to take $10,000 out of her Canadian retirement savings plan just so she could be with Justine until the age of 6 months before she inevitably had to go back to work at Scripps Green hospital in La Jolla. There’s the U.S. health care system for you. Maternity leave and employer compensation isn’t so good but the salary and hourly wage is great when you are at work, providing service and care for the patients.

So there I was with a 6 month old in a 2 bedroom apartment or unit 13 hours a day. Sunday was back at work and I was a stay-at-home-dad. Justine and I often occupied our time with fun games, toys, art, the coffee shop, Chipotle’s, the park and walks outside in the surrounding La Jolla neighborhoods.

The sunshine was always beating down on us and she would often fall asleep in my arms as the cool breeze blew down the streets. It was a magical time and the bond between us continued to grow stronger. Sometimes we would just sit together, side-by-side in front of the TV and watch kids programs. I would pop the popcorn, pour some juice and our laughter would boom throughout the apartment. The popping of the popcorn and juice happened around the age of 2. Popcorn and juice became the remedial recipe for fever, cough and cold. It was the cure-all and got Justine better in no time. I miss wiping the snot from her nose as she learned how to blow her nose into a Kleenex. Some of the blows would be half-hearted but she was getting the hang of it.

There are too many memorable times of her very early childhood to count and much of it is likely blocked out or forgotten for self-preservation purposes. Holding onto too many memories would create a lot of emotional pain and sometimes it’s hard to not let it slowly seep back in. Just now, picturing her making her first attempts to walk down the 3 stairs in the hallway to the kitchen almost reduces me to tears. It’s quite something special to witness your child making developmental changes. To see them trying, learning and succeeding is a very rewarding experience and worth all the effort and failures.

Now I have to ask myself again; how am I experiencing my levels of happiness? Did I work myself out of a rut from earlier this morning? Yes. I also ate an orange. That made me feel better too. The few ruffled chips I ate as well didn’t make me feel better though – they made me feel chubbier. Now I have to go out and buy some groceries and bring them back to the fridge for lunch. Will this activity of shopping make me happier? I’m not sure but it’s something I need to do and something I must do for the smooth functioning of the household.

After that, I’ll likely go for a walk in an old neighborhood near LaSalle Park. Then hopefully a few more e-mails and maybe a bit more writing. Who knows what else the day will bring. An important phone call might ring through or I might develop a new relationship that I didn’t previously have. Perhaps I’ll send a letter to an old editor friend to see if she’ll help me with editing and the eventual publication of my 1st book. It’s too hard to tell what the rest of the day will bring yet I’m optimistic that something new and exciting might happen; that my levels of happiness will increase and I’ll experience a deeper sense of meaning.

I’d like to write about my daughter more and may do so in the future! Just today my X-wife sent me a video of her opening a parcelled gift saying “I love it baby!” The words ‘adorable’ and ‘unforgettable’ come to mind. Children are precious and they say the cutest things.

It’d be great to hear from you,

Matthew R. Polkinghorne

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