Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Don't Worry, Be Happy

As a writer, it is both disheartening and refreshing when someone else expresses your thoughts more elegantly than you can. In this situation is where I find myself today. The words are from Taigo Ryokan (1758-1831), a Buddhist monk and poet.
I've never bothered about getting ahead
But just gone leisurely letting things take their way.
In my bag are three measures of rice
A bundle of firewood sits by the hearth
Who cares about delusion and enlightenment?
What use is there in fame and fortune?
In my hut I listen to the evening rain and stretch my legs without a care in the world.

Perhaps this translates to "don't worry, be happy". It has taken me a long time to come to a place where I can honestly say that I believe these words. It is a shame that most of us lose at least a few years, and some more, trying to get ahead - whatever that means. I have come to realize that, for me, being ahead means that I am genuinely happy. Happiness is a rare commodity it seems; experiencing it first hand puts one way ahead of many others without that even being an intended goal.

I don't think that being a happy person means that you are always walking around as Tigger; it means at your root, you are happy. This comes from being able to let go of all those requirements that are put on our lives by other people. This is not to say that we should shirk responsibility but rather that we feel free enough to be true to ourselves. It is imperative that we each take a journey inward and discern what makes YOU happy. And, it is okay if what I discover and what you discover differ greatly. For Ryokan, happiness was found in three measures of rice, a bundle of firewood, and the ability to enjoy the evening rain. How would your poem read?

Though I find myself a little frazzled right now because I have many little things to accomplish, I am comforted by the fact that I can say honestly that I am not worried. What needs to get done will get done and everything else must not have been as important as it seemed at one time. The fact that I was able to step away from those nagging chores and take a few minutes to read, and find the words of Ryokan, is all the evidence I need to be convinced that it is good to "stretch my legs without a care in the world"..

Pace e bene.