33 happy moments

“All human happiness is sensuous happiness” , states Lin Yutang in The Importance of Living. “Being made of this mortal flesh, the partition separating our flesh from our spirit is extremely thin, and the world of the spirit, with its finest emotions and greatest appreciations of spiritual beauty, cannot be reached except with our senses” Yutang continues and is right about his assertion. Some people view happiness as a final state of being, in the spiritual sense happiness is an end to the mortal form for them and the segue away from the body and fully inhabiting the gossamer form of the spirit. However, we would have to die and forgo living if we were to experience this happiness. The weight of living has made the body a burden rather than the carrier of life, and the medium to which we can experience life with all our capable senses. Spirituality has made some people believe the body is nothing compared to the spirit, or the soul, and try to mold the body, try to change the body, and in the end when the goal in the spiritual journey has not been reached, ignore the body and label it a burden to be left behind.

“It is sufficient that I live- and am probably going to live for another few decades- and that human life exists. Viewed that way, the problem becomes amazingly simple and admits of no two answers. What can be the end of human life except the enjoyment of it?” In other words, what’s the point of living if you can’t enjoy living? I’m not going to be ignorant of the current events, living in these times can be quite difficult to enjoy living, and even to enjoy simple pleasures without sacrificing a few things, however we cannot let it consume us out of our sanity. Being cynical is easy, and trying to find the good in the ever consuming bad can be hard, and reading a passage by Yutang where he describes the simple pleasures of living can sting a little if living hasn’t been going so well, so far. Yet, as I continued reading and finally coming to a part where he gives us an example of happy moments as described by Chin Shengt’an, a 17th century Chinese playwright, which he counted together with a friend when they were sheltering in a temple for 10 days away from the rainy weather, I began to examine my own happy moments, and challenged myself to write down 33 happy moments myself. These happy moments are true moments of human life which the spirit is tied up with the senses, allowing a union of sorts to take place giving way to truly feeling ourselves in the present moment.

When I was writing them down, I was not looking for particular moments where I was visibly ‘happy’ but adhering to the definition of sensuous happiness; deep down what was causing true joy, no judgement, just instinctively within the parameters of my body and senses.

33 Happy Moments:

  1. the warmth of the radiator on a windy day
  2. the quiet hum of the room as i write
  3. the end of my yoga routine, where i can feel the power of my breath flowing through me
  4. the first bite of a warm meal and the last bite after finishing, feeling satiated
  5. the rustle of writing of the fountain pen on the page
  6. blending the colors on a palette and witnessing a new color come alive
  7. when the clouds move across the sky opposite each other, almost as of they’re dancing in a circle across the globe holding hands
  8. feeling the steam rising from the tea cup and the warmth of the cup on my palms as I hold it
  9. the refreshing feeling after washing my hair
  10. the feeling of freshly blow dried hair
  11. freshly brushed teeth
  12. drinking cool water after a hot shower
  13. finishing an inspiring passage in a book
  14. highlighting a phrase that caused a stir in my heart and soul
  15. eating a piece of chocolate and letting it melt in my mouth slowly
  16. the crunch of a carrot and tasting its unexpected sweetness
  17. the crescendo and diminuendo of a piece of music, and following the journey of the melody
  18. closing my tired eyes and drifting into sleep
  19. the way my body curls into a fetal position before sleep, after a long day
  20. the end of a good cry
  21. the freshness a newly cleaned space
  22. washing my favorite blanket and after it is dry, snuggling in the newly cleaned fluffiness of it
  23. making my own meal; the process of putting it together and then finally sitting down to enjoy it
  24. feeding the birds and witnessing how i slowly gain their trust
  25. witnessing heavy grey clouds finally let go of all the water, and watching the city get drenched and cleaned
  26. gargling minty mouthwash without choking
  27. washing and rinsing the roots of my pothos plant and filling it with cool water
  28. the scent of lavender
  29. smoothing on lotion when my skin is dry
  30. filling up a page in my hobonichi planner with doodles
  31. the scent of the wind; sometimes it smells like the ocean in the summer, a fading greenness in the autumn, the iciness of the upcoming winter, and the warming blossoming of the spring
  32. following the journey of the moonrise; her glow transforming from red to orange to yellow, and finally to her final silvery form
  33. waking up naturally to witness the sunrise in the morning coming through my bedroom window

So, can you reader write down 33 happy moments? And if it’s such a difficult task to reach 33, at least writing down one should be enough. After all, we’re all on different paths, some lost, some tired but keep in mind that we are all under the same sky, and that if we look up once in awhile, it can show us a beauty we can appreciate if we can just take the time to look, no judgements, no thoughts of data and such, just gaze and witness.

“Is not every word an impulse on the air?”

Agathos (trans. good) Oinos (trans. wine)

Good wine. The elixir of the gods. An offering to the ethers from Edgar Allan Poe.

“OINOS: Pardon, Agathos, the weakness of a spirit new-fledged with immortality!” We have Oinos now conscious of their spirit in death as they approach Agathos, an angel, a guide now helping Oinos in the beginning of this new journey of the spirit beyond the mortal realm.

The conversation touches upon the idea that now in death, everything should be known, all the mysteries eluding the spirit in mortal form now fully fledged, opened, and known. But it is not so because even God doesn’t know all.

OINOS: But does not The Most High know all?
AGATHOS: That (since he is The Most Happy) must be still the one thing unknown even to Him.
OINOS: But, since we grow hourly in knowledge, must not at last all things be known?

This is something that plagues people, shouldn’t we know all once we leave the mortal form behind, isn’t it the point? The mysteries now revealed?

“The Power of Words” is a beautiful force upon the conscious mind who is in constant titillation of wanting to know all. The soul, after all is not made to have the knowledge and that’s it, to swallow the facts and close satisfied like a mouth, “the sole purpose is to afford infinite springs, at which the soul may allay the thirst to know, which is forever unquenchable within it- since to quench it, would be to extinguish the soul’s self.”

The continual creation from the catalyst of God’s first creation is a ripple effect that can be traced down to the atom. Even the soul’s material is dependent on this motion, to move constantly in the direction of knowing, and to not want to know is akin to the soul’s death. The stagnant mortal body now perishes, the vehicle of immortality now snuffed. The mortal will never taste the immortality gifted to them.

OINOS: Then all motion, of whatever nature, creates?
AGATHOS: It must: but a true philosophy has long taught that the source of all motion is thought- and the source of all thought is-
OINOS: God

What is the point? A constant search for knowledge? That, for some is simply not entertaining and certaintly not something that seems to be of interest insofar it gets them to an end.

It’s all about the process: the struggle to one problem and its solution to another theory and its summation of an inkling of a truth. We don’t live to die, we live to live and to enjoy that living.

Oinos is said to be “one” but its Greek translation is “wine”. I believe Poe intended it to be wine. Agathos’ Greek translation is “good”.

Here’s some good wine, is how I see it. Here’s a conversation laden with potential for you, here’s an offering to the dark shadows in your mind, let me pour it out here. And since “The Power of Words” is meant to signify how we speak things into existence, just as Agathos helped God speak the Earth into existence, everything laid before is the friction of the match before the spark blooms into fire, in other words, this isn’t meant as prose but an explanation of the power that the mortal possesses as one speaks their life into existence, how those words then form the foundations of their life and then how the fullness of the expression can make the wholeness of a life lived. The point dear mortal is to live, to ask, to seek, and then to transcend with this knowledge into the next one.

Philosophy is but a poetical explanation of the self set in motion by the thoughts that if it were traced back can be pinpointed to God, the original creator. We continue not to merely continue, the blooms of everything is an expression looking for the words. We find them, we speak them, and the power behind them can literally make a world.

“The Power of Words” (originally published in the Democratic Review, June 1845) in Tales, Sketches and Selected Criticism by Edgar Allan Poe.

Poem XX

Adrienne Rich’s Twenty-One Love Poems are something to behold. Poem XX is the one that moved me, the one that shed a light on something within me I needed to understand, about what the soul is, what the soul is made of.

“That conversation we were always on the edge of having, runs on in my head”, what is this conversation? The internal monologue we have, that inner voice that gathers our intuition and hands it to us. I then read it over and over sharpening my understanding of the soul. Is it a mirror, reflecting the vulnerabilities of ourselves we hide? Not necessarily. We are so prone to continue this life ignoring ourselves for the sake of having a life people think is worth living. There comes a time though, a small moment, where we see ourselves, and the neglect that has caused our grief, “…drowning in secrets, fear wound round her throat”. This grief we try to set aside, throw whatever we can at it, but it’s still determined to creep up when we believe to have defeated it. Our soul is not a mirror, but it will show us what we have been neglecting, how we have been hurting. And then, the sudden realization that we can indeed have a hand at shaping our soul, to have a hand at expanding and growing by nourishing it, to realize it is ours, it is mine, “and soon I shall know I was talking to my own soul”.

This was my interpretation of it and sometimes I wonder if I’m right or wrong. But then again, even though the writer had a certain intention with it, how it is received is something entirely different. I like to think of poetry and other art forms like a road sign, something that highlights what you’ve been mulling over and over again in the palm of your hands, and at times medicine, an elixir that brings the understanding you need in order to continue on.

And now I ask, what has moved you on this Monday, or lately?

Poem XX from Twenty-One Love Poems in, The Dream of a Common Language by: Adrienne Rich

Gabriel’s Wing- 19 Ghazal No.1

What does it mean to be moved? Moved to tears? to anger? to sadness? to happiness? Something within us stirs and is alive waiting for anything that has the capacity to brighten or dim, to enhance or mute, to grow or to shrink. As a creative person, as a writer, and as a human being I want to talk about what moves me, and what stays with me. So, I want to share pieces of work that has moved something within me, that has stirred my essence, and has eventually stained a bit of my existence.

In “Gabriel’s Wing”, Allama Iqbal’s constant questioning of “mine or Yours?” has stayed with me ever since I came across the poem five years ago. My own spiritual journey is holy at this moment, to the point that it feels a little difficult to fully share. I started this journey around the time I read this poem. “Mine or Yours?” the responsibility of life, of being, touching upon the idea of perfection and the faults. When some of us finally arrive to the threshold of our God, we have our arms wide open and in need of the embrace of the Divine. Our own notions of a pure love is sort of tainted a bit by the idea of mother and father, so we arrive here- ‘my maker’ and assign them the role of mother and father. I couldn’t help but to think of when a child has done something wrong, the father looks over to the mother to say, ‘that’s your child not mine’ when reading this poem. We somehow take it upon ourselves that this must be a collaborative work, me and God, God as the parent but also us creating our God and confusingly God creating us. We’re here wondering if everything we see is ours or God’s. When everything is not perfect as we think it should be, whose fault is that? We either think too much or too little of ourselves, so it’s natural that we think too much or too little of God.

No matter where one is on their spiritual journey, there’s always this sincere questioning of God. The God we are taught about, the God we don’t see, the God we do see, and the God we wish could be if only people try to believe enough. But here Iqbal questions everything we are aware of so far; if heaven is corrupted, is it God’s heaven or my heaven? If I’m ignorant of the world’s woes, is it God’s fault or mine? If all of life is truly meaningless, am I to blame or can I blame God for that? Should I know of Your faults God, how an angel dared to rebel at the moment of You showing Your magnificent powers of creation, will that make You weaker in my eyes, should it affect my devotion to you? Everything that is holy is Yours God but didn’t I, as a human being, had a hand in writing those words? And me, a human you made, am I still Yours God, will you still claim me God if I’m no longer perfect in your eyes or will I stand alone?

If we want to be skeptical, we could say all of this is ours. The reality here is ours and we should accept blame where blame is due. When a human being decides to harm others, God didn’t reach within them and move them to destroy another’s world the same way Satan did not move them to do the same. So, this God we question is the likeness we seek. We wish to put a mirror to our faults and yet we shy away at the last minute: ‘there must be something grand that can take all the blame, both good and bad, I don’t want the responsibility of all of that’.

For me, God is not a man in the sky, and we are not made in that man’s likeness. I’m confident I know for sure what God isn’t, but I still don’t fully know what God truly is. My own journey is still roving. I’m still trying to figure out what God is. I came across Simone Weil’s words today, “Love needs reality. What is more terrible than the discovery that through a bodily appearance we have been loving an imaginary being” (from “Love”, Simone Weil: An Anthology) and it stirs up that feeling again when I question my devotion to a God I chose to believe in; how could I love someone I don’t see? To be asked to take things on faith and faith alone is an exercise of the heart’s will, its capacity to love, and a test to our humanity. What makes us real,what makes us human? Hoping for an all-powerful being we can’t see to love us as we are is a ridiculous endeavor. It makes people angry and upset to say that, hell it makes me upset to even say it. So, when I read “Gabriel’s Wing”, it brought to my attention my creator and the responsibility of things whether they are perfect or not, and are these things perfect in the first place if they could change with perspective and blame?

I know what God is not through these questions. For now, I am content in the unraveling of this spiritual world as a new one blooms before me, with me before it, understanding everything from questioning everything I’ve been told about it.

“Gabriel’s Wing” is a piece of work that has stained me, not a day goes by where I don’t think about it. The line, “and man, that thing of dust, that star whose shining lights your world-” is a line that makes me smile. There’s always that residue left within us, like a child looking up at their parent, whether joyful or sad, how powerful are we to have that capacity to light up someone’s world, aren’t we something?