I decided to turn from the news, that stayed on throughout the night, to watch Super Soul Sunday on OWN. I thought a shot of spirituality would help give me the proper perspective in dealing with the grief being felt around the world and inside my soul.
My mind wasn't on the television much as I'm visiting my Mom, who isn't feeling well. Still, I was able to catch the last segment of the repeat show from last week. The question was, "What makes you happy?"
Excerpts of stories of about five people flowed on the screen. Each saying they found what made them happy in their childhood. Each continuing into adulthood as a painter, or swimmer, or horseback rider, etc.
Naturally, I asked myself that same question. "What makes me happy?" I began to journal and the answer surprised me. What others might say and what I thought might be my response was different than what landed from my gut and onto the page.
I found my voice through poetry at a young age but it wasn't until my early 20s that I had my first poem published. As a quiet child, I spent a lot of time by myself. And, I enjoyed writing as it was a way to imagine a different situation. (Looking back, I had a lovely childhood, but at the time, there was always something different I wanted; you know: more friends, later bedtime, you get the drift.)
I didn’t have an imaginary friend. It was writing that gave me an outlet where I felt most accepted. I journaled. I wrote plays. I wrote poetry. But, that isn't what made me happy. Most of what I wrote about was sadness. Writing made me feel whole, but feeling whole and feeling happy aren't necessarily the same thing.
Then, there's paining. As a child, I loved painting class because I could wear one of my Dad's oversized old shirts to class (I wish I still had one of those shirts). I don't remember "loving" painting or being good at it. It wasn’t something I did outside of the public school’s art class. But as an adult, it's something I go to that brings me peace and joy.
So, what's my response to what makes me happy? Perhaps it's yours to. It's creating. Being in the middle of the creative process -- Whether it's writing, painting, dancing, cooking, conversing. It's the feeling of being in the moment, surrendering expectations, allowing myself to be free and trusting what will happen next.
That’s it. That’s what makes me happy.
I was at first terrified by this bubbling up of an answer because I thought it would make my life more complicated moving forward. If there isn't one thing I love then what one thing will I focus on?! But here's the gift: we don't need "one thing" or one person or one gift. We just need one moment.
The gift is being in that moment and being a part of creating that moment.
What will I do with now knowing what truly makes me happy? I will resist the temptation of having to know what that looks like for me ahead of time. I will be attentive to what I need and those around me need, and prayerfully, be a force that will help create something better, be in through a poem, a painting, a meal or a smile.
What have I learned so far on the journey? Your creative joy doesn't have to come from childhood. It doesn't have to be something you've done all your life. It doesn't have to be one thing. But once you discover and accept your creative joy, it does need you to embrace it, to share it, to make room for it to breathe. That's, after all, when you truly begin to live.
I tell people I'm a poet, if I'm asked. But I what I realize today, as honored as I am by that title, is that I'm a creative catalyst. We all are. The fact that we breathe dictates our ability to create.
Now, let’s go create something beautiful simply by being who we are and doing what makes us happy. Whatever those many things may look like.