I looked down at the poppy pinned to my jacket after writing last weeks blog for Remembrance Day. Of course I actually looked at a pin because I rarely have a poppy for long. My poppies are like a Remembrance Day version of the Elf on the Shelf that’s gaining popularity over here, appearing in the most unlikely of places, different each day in the run up to 11th November.
I think of it as a good marketing tool, buy a poppy, lose it, buy another (rinse and repeat until after Nov 11th) and I really don’t mind – it’s for a good cause. People have tried to explain how to use the sticky out bit on the side to anchor the poppy and others have explained that I need to drive the pin through the poppy stem with my super human pile-driving fingers. It has actually occurred to me that if I heat the pin I could use it like a miniature soldering iron and melt a hole through the poppy stem, or failing that sew it with wire to my least favorite coat. But I think they (and I, at times) are missing the point – the poppy is ephemeral and sold for charity, it seems wrong to hang on to my £1 poppy at any cost or effort. It’s a bit like that meme… if you love someone let them go and blah, blah, blah. If you have a poppy and lose it, just buy another one you tight arse. OK not so similar.
Looking at my remembrance day pin, I realised that I identified with it. The end must officially be nigh when I am empathising with a pin. But I did, all function and no glory. I made me realise how far I really haven’t come since I decided that I have lost who I am and can no longer work out what makes me happy.
I realised that since deciding I needed to find my happiness again I have opportunistically savoured the moments but haven’t made any real change. When, after an argument with my son this week I went out in the car and sobbed for my mum, I accepted that grief is a slippery little bugger who comes and bites you on the arse when you think you’ve given him the slip. Just to keep you in your place.
There was a discussion on a facebook group of which I’m lucky enough to be a member which was considering whether we should even aim for happiness or whether contentment is a better path and what is the difference between the two anyway. I think most people instinctively know the difference even if they can’t articulate it.
Contentment – a feeling that if nothing changed that what you have or are is enough.
Happiness – a feeling of joy often transient.
Was I on the wrong lines looking for happiness?
I am actually very content with myself and with my life. Even the death of my mother and the sadness and despair that comes with it doesn’t change my certainty that I am a very fortunate person living a fortunate life in fortunate era and location. And I think that’s a good way to look at it – not a perfect life but perfectly acceptable. It is the pin.
Contentment is my pin. And I have that and am grateful for it.
But happiness adds a dimension to living that takes it beyond acceptable, the mutual laughter and the memories that you bank to keep you going when need to rely on memories alone. Happiness is the splash of red on your jacket lapel to lift you and the group bonding and the thoughts of the people who made the poppies and the knowledge that you were a tiny part of that and you helped.
There is nothing wrong with striving to be happy not just content, perhaps not all the time but moments of happiness are to be treasured and yes, even sought out.
Music used to make me happy so I’m going to look into that some more. Like my poppy, which when I lose it I keep buying more, I will keep trying because contentment is an amazing gift but happiness on top is better.