Back in the olden days, when this blog was new, I would, without any hesitation, write an entire blog post about why this morning at 10:43 a.m. (which is the time as I write this) I found myself so incredibly happy. But something happened, maybe a year or so ago, and I began to be afraid of my blog, afraid that what I was writing was ridiculous, or not worth anyone’s time, and who was I to give nothing of value to the people who come over here other than a few words about my own personal happiness?
I’m so over that this morning.
I’m happy because the eagle landed yesterday, and because buzz aldrin, a man not known for being poetic, described the moon’s “magnificent desolation” and it was right there on twitter, coming to me over my cell phone in little bursts, like I was simultaneously Houston, the apollo 11 spacecraft and the eagle. I remember when I was a child the summer of the moon landing was such a happy one. My mother rented a television, my father was in Germany, setting up things for our move from Maryland to Bavaria in the fall, and the ordinary rules of the house seemed a little more relaxed. You knew the astronauts were up there, overhead, and that made the sky and the moon look different, more magical and possible. That’s what people like Robert Heinlein and Ray Bradbury knew and felt and delivered, in the only kind of science fiction I’ve ever read and loved.
I’m also happy because I’ve discovered that tapioca pudding, which I hated as a child, is delicious when you make it yourself, as an adult, and you get to eat it while it’s warm, and also drizzle it on fruit. I discovered this because my neighbor, Helen, who is in her late 80s and dying of cancer, and right now is in a nursing home getting strong so she can come home for her last fall in Berkeley, asked us to bring her some one evening a week or two ago. It is not a happy thing when your beautiful and kind neighbor is dying, but it is an extraordinary gift to be able to be of assistance to her, and to witness how a woman of grace and strength approaches her final illness. It is true that we all die, but as I might have mentioned here before, we die only in a moment and the rest of the time we are here, alive, engaged in life, part of things. And so, just as it did that summer of the moon landing, knowing that while you go about your everyday life, someone else is engaged in a heroic and extraordinary endeavor, makes you reach for, insist on, and recognize the happiness in your everyday life.