Addendum to Why Aren’t We Happy

After I posted some comments about happiness and Jean Webster’s book Daddy-Long-Legs, I continued to finish off the book for this reading. And ran again across one of her paragraphs as Judy writing to Daddy-Long-Legs that always reminds me of how and why I feel the way I do, and I thought I would share it as well.

Judy/Jean writes after Judy has visited a really wealthy family over Christmas vacation with one of her roommates, and which she didn’t enjoy as much as she had with another roommate in a much less wealthy family:

“It isn’t the great big pleasures that count the most; it’s making a great deal out of the little ones – I’ve discovered the true secret of happiness, Daddy, and that is to live in the now. Not to be forever regretting the past, or anticipating the future; but to get the most that you can out of this very instant. It’s like farming. You can have extensive farming and intensive farming; well, I am going to have intensive living after this. I’m going to enjoy every second, and I’m going to know I’m enjoying it while I’m enjoying. Most people don’t live; they just race. They are trying to reach some goal far away on the horizon, and in the heat of the going, they get so breathless and panting that they lose all sight of the beautiful, tranquil country they are passing through, and then the first thing they know, they are old and worn out, and it doesn’t make any difference whether they’ve reached the goal or not.”

I have to say I have missed quite a few of the goals I wanted in my life. Some of the goals I never achieved include traveling overseas: Scotland, Ireland, Tuscany in Italy, India, China. This has happened because I would have had to save my money and gone without things to make those trips. And I wanted to spend my money on things I needed, and for groups and organizations and entertainment I was involved in.

I wanted to move to New York City and become rich and famous and meet a lot of people socially that I aspired to be. But I never did because there was always something going on in my life that I was enjoying.

I wanted to be an actress when I was just finishing high school. I had paperwork to enter the Pasadena Playhouse of Performing Arts, and had been accepted, but my mother refused to let me go. So I moved to Las Vegas to be with my dad, who would have helped me get in, but I got involved in activities and with new friends that I was enjoying enough to not leave.

There have been many, many other things in my life that I enjoyed, and I kept the dreams alive of at least the travel, or the move to New York City, but I never got around to doing any of it.

Today I regret nothing I have done; I somewhat regret not doing at least more traveling, but then I think about what I might not have done because I was waiting to afford to do something else. And I sit sometimes and still think I’m going to do at least part of it – I think about Italy and Ireland – but the truth is that I am never going to be able to afford to do any of it because I am happy at 73 to sit and live on my social security, and enjoy my leisure – and my political world – and be happy. So I read and watch documentaries and movies like Under The Tuscan Sun, and day dream, but I am happy in my life in spite of all the things I missed. That, I think, is a lot more important.

Carol Stepp
Austin, TX

About carolstepp

Music is about the most important thing in my life, and I follow a large number of musicians, particularly Irish, Scots, Classical, Crossovers of any of these. I was writing a blog about Celtic Thunder regularly on MySpace, and now I have left them after a year, and will start writing my blogs here. I am 70, retired, living on Social Security, and have a lot of social network fans.
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