Happiness is a choice. I used to wonder about that. Is it really? How can people choose to be happy? If your child dies, how can you be happy?
Thoughts as a youngster, looking at the world through the eyes of someone who had lost a child, or rather, trying to understand their incredible pain. My amazement some years later discussing it with her again, she WAS happy. Of the lost child she said, I am happy I had her to love for a while, think how much emptier my life would have been without that love.
This week I heard of another death; a man who sold newspapers at the street corner. Ours being a society rather dependent on motorised transport, these men have their standing spot IN the road, dodging between cars as they wait for the traffic light to change. It is very physical work, carrying a pile of papers, juggling them as they offer the next paper through the car window, sorting out change in whatever they use for their change carrier/pocket. Keeping an eye out for the lights to change and darting to safety again as the traffic moves on is all part of the job’s risk.
About two years ago I started working regularly at a customer not very far from home. One route there, mainly through the back suburban streets (so that I can keep an eye on how the gardens are doing) used to have me going up to his spot several times a week. Every day there he was, sometimes capering a little, smiling, talking a lot. I never really understood what he was saying, but there was always obviously a friendly greeting in there. His thumbs up would cheer my morning,. If stopped I would open the car window and we would ‘touch knuckles’. I have no idea where that tradition of his started, but there were a lot of us he greeted.
He always had a hat. Sometimes a very sensible one, sometimes a fanciful one. One year I kept a hat from a party, a dazzling bowler with red sequins. But alas, I drove past his spot a few times and he was not there. I eventually gave it to a street kid who had been staring through the window at it. He preened at his own reflection in the mirror and smiled. Next day Mr Happy was back at his corner, yet I had given away his hat. I felt guilty, even though he had never known it was intended for him. I kept meaning to go and buy him one.
Then last week a friend posted on Facebook that Mr Happy was dead. Struck by a car. Amazng how many peopke knew him, commented over his loss. Someone most of us didn’t even know by name. He spread his happiness around, brightening grumpy mornings.
We are waiting to hear if he had a family, and if we can help in some way.
I sat that evening with a cup of coffee, thinking about him. He must have had a hard life; newspaper sellers do not earn a lot. He had a family to raise, and if his extended family was anything like many of our families here, he may have been supporting an extended family as well.
Yet every day there was that incredible happiness from him. He was definitely a man who CHOSE happiness.
Thank you Mr Happy for a lesson for the heart.