I am sitting at my railroad desk in my ‘porch office,’ and though I’m plunking my way through the work that needs to be done, I’m slightly distracted by a group of honeybees which seem to be confused. They fly near and hover by the power strip where my laptop is plugged in just a foot and a half away, and while I admit to being afraid of bees because of their sting and the fact that it also kills them when they sting, I’m amazed watching them dive into the sad-face portion of the outlet, then back out, turn themselves around, and back in again. I don’t know if it is warm in there or if it’s just so similar to a hive that they’re confused. Either way, I’m mesmerized by their diligence and persistence.
While I’m working, Dan and Hali, the young woman who lives next door and will graduate from high school next week, are putting in screen doors on the porches on each side of the living room. I’ve already put in an order for pet screen because there is simply no way the delicate screen that came with the doors will do the trick, and the sound of the two of them working together and enjoying the time makes me love Dan even more. Even as I work, more bees are heading this way; I think I’ve seen eight or nine so far go through the same exercise, unless of course it is the same two doing it over and over again.
There’s a mountain laurel bush that blooms more and more each day, and though I know I want to cut it back to a much lower height next year, it’s so beautiful to see the colors like tiny bouquets popping up between the leaves of green that look like a ballet skirt beneath them. All is well here, and it got me thinking about a writing exercise I do with my students sometimes. I ask them to start writing and not take their hands off the paper and respond to the question, “When was the last time you were truly happy.” It’s always interesting to hear them groan about having to write about it, and it always takes a few minutes for them to get started, but reading the answers later on in their journals never fails to knock me out. Some of them have never been truly happy; others have had life experiences which make me wonder how they ever can be happy, and some of them say they’re happy right now. That always seems so odd to me because the ones who say they are happy right now are rarely the ones who act or seem to be even sharing the same continent with contentment. It makes me wonder if their bar is so low or their expectation so high that they feel they will never have a moment better than the one they are in now. As I watch them write, I wonder how I would answer the same question myself.
The funny thing is, right now, I think I would answer that I am happy here, in this place, at this time. Of course I have trepidation about what is going to happen three or four months from now, when there is no steady paycheck from the college, but I also know in my heart that there will be other opportunities which present themselves to me and which will challenge me mentally and help me to grow. Along with the trepidation and mystery about not having a paycheck should also be the reminder that I will also not have the responsibility of a group of students, essays to grade, lectures and classes to teach, and pointless meetings about data and learning outcomes to slog through. There may be some scary moments, but there will be so many new and exciting adventures to enjoy, and there are already opportunities and doors opening for me. I hope they come to fruition, but if they don’t, I need to realize that, without even trying, all these options have presented themselves, so why wouldn’t others continue to do so in the right time?
Maybe I’m like one of those crazy worker bees which keeps buzzing nearby. I keep finding openings to explore, and sometimes I dive in, then have to back out, turn around, and go in a different way, but even if it doesn’t turn out to be a hive full of honey and a place to pay homage to a queen, it’s still a wild ride and an exciting adventure to be part of the exploration. So when I think about the last time I was truly happy, I don’t think I have to look back at all; I am happy here and now, filled with hope for the future and contentment in the place where I find myself existing now, eager for new adventures and a chance to explore, and grateful for all the opportunity and goodness I have all around me right in this very moment.