A Day So Happy

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.

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38 thoughts on “A Day So Happy

  1. Nothing you write is ridiculous to me; I always finish your posts feeling full — in my heart, in my mind — and you’ve done it again here. What a gift to have you as a neighbor. Thanks, Lily — don’t ever stop blogging! xo

  2. Hi bloglily! I too remember the moon landing as if it was yesterday!! Thanks for making me smile. I’m also considering starting a blog and would love to pick your brain for 3 minutes…can you please email me at gbenson@cshore.com? I’m thinking of using word press…
    A magical incident happened today that made me think that I’d post it to my blog…then I laughed because I don’t have one!! A pair of deer were romping in my yard as if they owned the place…when I went to the door to snap a picture, the younger one scampered into the woods while the older one looked straight at me from 20 feet as if to ask “who the heck are YOU?” I said hello (don’t ask why) and the deer actually made a noise like a raspberry and then ran off after his friend. I never knew deer talked!

  3. “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?”

    You know Lily, I feel exactly the same way about my blog at the moment. It feels really awkward and I no longer know what to write either! But maybe I should just not care about it and write what I like again, I might even produce a happy post like yours 🙂 I liked it a lot!

  4. Your posts open outwards. Not you looking in a mirror, and look! People respond. Conversation.

    I think, for all the heroic and everyday things we do, where we really come alive, where we live… is in conversation. You speak. I respond. You respond in kind.

    That’s where we begin, isn’t it? The little noises we make, learning to shape them into words–into sounds our mothers and fathers and siblings understand. And more can anyone look forward at the end… but a last word.

    I don’t think it at all strange, saying hello to a deer… or that deep in the brain of that animal, something prompts it to reply in its own way.

    Saddness is less sad when spoken. And how can you tell happiness from saddness if it remains silent?

    I have always loved tapioca.

  5. This post is one of the ones that makes it very clear to me why I keep coming back to your writing. There are many blogs that address this sort of thing, you know, happiness, the immanent happiness of the moment and its flipside and consequences; but they all read like Bill Bryson to your George Orwell. Or Alice bloody Sebald to Iris Murdoch? Or Jon Bon Jovi to Bruce Springsteen?

    Perhaps its because (like me) they try too hard.

    Actually, this post also reminds me of the rather wonderful Lambchop album called Ohio I’m listening to at the moment. Why Bloglily is like Lambchop’s Ohio is perhaps the title of the next post I should write.

  6. Oh, rats. Could you correct the apostrophe please? Sorry, that was “truly unforgivable.”

    (Done! You are such a writer, you know, to care about spelling like that!!)

  7. I’m glad you’ve freed yourself from that misapprehension. Whatever you write is always worth reading. You have a gift for uplift! – I put it somewhat comically, but it is also true.

    – “We choose to go to the moon …”. Those were uplifting words too.

  8. You are a dear heart and someone of deep thought and perhaps occasional unnecessary worry (thinking you should not write a post because we might find it trivial; which might only happen when you start describing your toe clippings). My dearly beloved uncle was in the same circumstances as your kind neighbuor last year at this time. Sitting by his bedside, talking of things present and past, was a simple gesture of complete love and shared fate. Tapioca pudding is a close to divine as it gets.

  9. I try to be uplifting too, and I thoroughly enjoy the way you compare and contrast two different aspects of life and then tie them together.

    There is nothing wrong with trying to spread some joy into the world and sharing your sources of happiness is one way to do it.

  10. Debbie, Jacob is a treasure, isn’t he? Man. All that love. It does a woman good.

    Ms. HMH, When I first began blogging, I really didn’t think much about what I wrote — it was a kind of notebook, a place to put ideas, reading lists, photographs of raspberries, recipes, things that amused me. And then at some point I started to think a notebook was not good enough, that I needed something more formal here, something I just don’t have the energy or desire to do. I am hoping to stop thinking that way!

    Lilalia, It’s been a summer of funerals and illness, but not at all an unhappy one. We’re all on the same journey — well, maybe not the same journey, but certainly the destination is the same, even if the routes are different. And when those who are closer to the destination look over their shoulders and tell us things like, “it is beautiful up ahead” or at least “it is not so frightening up there as you might think,” it is a great gift. It sounds like your uncle was that way.

    Lokesh, I think that was John Kennedy’s decision, to choose the moon on our behalf. I wish our money went more often to exploration and experimentation, and not so much to war.

    Hello U-Dad, I fixed your apostrophe! I hate that too. (I’ll type “it’s” when I mean to type “its” and then I think, “God, I hope they realize I know the difference!”) Lambchop Ohio! Do you remember Sherry Lewis, who had a puppet called Lambchop? She was a ventriloquist, and I loved her, mostly because I couldn’t believe that talking sheep was really talking. But what I really mean to tell you is that getting something right involves a huge amount of effort, in part because it’s very difficult to do that without letting the effort show. On a blog I think we are ALL absolved from that because it is more a conversation, as Jacob says. So I am not going to worry about polish and effort, and I hope neither will you.

    Dear wonderful Jacob, Thank you. If there is good conversation, then you are very responsible for it.

    Ingrid, Yes, I think you are right — write what you like! One of my favorite things Virginia Woolf says about writing is this: “So long as you write what you wish to write that is all that matters, and whether it matters for ages or hours, no one can say.”

    Hi Ruth: This is precisely how I felt when I read about your fruitcake last night. xoxo

    Hello Susan and welcome. I think the answer is yes. I’ve noticed that when I am not a big cranky grump in my house, my children are much, much happier, and so is my husband. And when my children are feeling cheery, it can really help lift me out of whatever grumpy place I’m in.

    Dear Gail, I’ll e-mail you this morning. A raspberry! The deer community is becoming very bold, isn’t it? I thought they were supposed to be elegant and shy!

    Marie, You know, it’s not so much that I think about not blogging, it’s that I have never given much thought to what a blog is FOR. Every form has some sort of function, or it should, but I just started typing up whatever thing came into my head without a lot of reflection. So, having noticed that I feel constrained by a desire to write perfectly shaped posts, I also feel like I can just stop doing that.

    Dear SW — I have never in my life been called a good egg, but what a terrific expression. I cannot wait to figure out where to deploy that on my own. xoxo

  11. I often feel the same way about my blog, which is why I don’t write so often these days. But, your blog, however, never seems that way to me. I read every bit and it almost always makes me smile! I remember the moonwalk as if it were just a few summers ago and yes, the moon did seem to look different once they were there!

  12. Great post, Lily. I’m also feeling a bit shy of blogging right now and reading this affirmed my faith in blogging, happiness, appreciating the moment and so on. Will have to try the tapioca.

  13. Thanks for the happy post. I spent the anniversary of the moon landing in the Sonora Desert, on both sides of the border. It’s what I imagine the moon might look like, only with mesquite and ocatillo and butterflies that flutter like gold confetti and puma paw prints in the sandy bottom of a wash by where the border fence gets destroyed by seasonal flash floods. OK. Not at all like the moon, but I wanted it to be like the moon because of the anniversary.

  14. Dear bloglily, thank you for your happy post! It made me smile and reminded me that there are extraordinary things going on all the time. And you are right, death is a smal, brief moment and until then we are hear alive and precious. And it made me remember how much I love tapioca pudding 🙂

  15. Dear Stefanie, I’m glad to hear that others are fans of a pudding I once thought was too scary to put in my mouth. (How could I have ever thought that?)

    Ben, Like the moon, not like the moon — what does it matter? It sounds quite beautiful. I hope the book’s going along well!

    Well Pete, A consensus is slowly forming here that it might be time rescue tapioca and bring it to the table. And I’m glad about the reaffirmed faith. xo

    Dear Cam, I think we were exactly the same age that summer. I like knowing we were both looking up at the sky at the same time!

    Matthew, The trick is to remember that! Thanks for the reminder.

  16. What a great, great, great, great post and JUST what I needed to read today, on a day when it seems like everything and everyone is being difficult and frustrating. I also love the concept of you die in a moment and the rest of the time you are living…I am going to hold that close to me.

  17. Lily, I think we are the same age. Next year two friends of mine & I are planning a trip to celebrate our common entry into the next decade of our lives. Currently in the running is a trip to Napa. If we’re out your way, perhaps you can join us in celebrating!

  18. I remember those happy posts and I have to say that when they stopped, I missed them. One of the reasons I have always returned to your blog, Lily, is the joy that resonates here. You have a special talent for life (and writing) and your blog shimmers with both. You are an inspiration.

  19. Dear Charlotte, You and I began blogging at almost exactly the same time, didn’t we? And it’s interesting to think about how our expectations for it have changed — I think I prefer it the way it was when I began, which is that I just posted whatever the hell I liked. It’s not as though I’m not doing that, but I do sometimes read book blogs (which is what this one sort of is) and I think, man, I read a book a month if I’m lucky and just LOOK at what everyone else is doing!! On the other hand, I am so happy that people are out there reviewing and talking about books and so even though I can’t do that, I’m still happy to see it out there.

    Goodness Cam! What a great sounding trip! Let me know as your plans develop — I’d love to join up with you at some point, if that’s possible. Thank you so much for asking!!

    Oh, Ms. HMH! THat’s the loveliest thing. Thank you.

    Why Lilian, sweetie (as we say around here), that’s such a kind thing to say. I hope you went right out and ate some pudding afterwards.

    Dear Courtney, I know exactly what you mean — I have many days when I feel precisely that way. xoxo

  20. “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?” What!??? I come for company and cheer and insight and tenderness and all the things that are you…

  21. Like others, I noticed that paragraph that begins, “and I began to be afraid of my blog…” I’ll be quoting and linking back to that, as it’s directly applicable to what I’m having to say in my 100th post, now in process.

    I’ve become a firm believer in synchronicity, or a Muse, or maybe just the Blog Fairy. In any event, more often than not I find what I need, more or less when I need it.

    As for the rest… we’re 80, and your blog is tapioca.

  22. Beautiful post. The happiness is contagious.

    One of the things I like best about remembering the first moon landing is that my grandfather never believed it really happened–he wasn’t a conspiracy theorist, just a country farmer who could not conceive of such a thing. At the time, with all the arrogant certainty of a 12 year old, I thought him backwards and ignorant. Now I look at the moon and admire the purity of the view he held of it.

  23. I like what one of the other commenters said – you are a dear heart, and when you write from it, we are all encouraged and enlightened. I know what you mean about blogging – I never write a personal post without an instant recoil and the urge to take it down again. But I have never found you trivial or self-serving, and I doubt very much that I ever will.

  24. Pingback: Message in a Blog-Bottle « The Task at Hand

  25. Hi bloglily,

    What a great post, as so many others have noticed…

    The moon landing was one of those events where most of us remember where we were. And I think of those older folks, like your neighbour Helen who have lived through so many changes, including when human beings really walked on the moon.

    I was reading a book recently about an insightful man who happened to be a Buddhist… he was talking about standing in the middle of not-knowing. Somehow your post has something of that, of standing while the world whirls around us, knowing nothing but our hearts.

    Regards

  26. Jacob and OP, I think there is room for every kind of writing — a blog is whatever you want it to be. When I read personal and revealing writing I most often feel like I’ve been given a gift, and that it requires a responsible reaction, because those kinds of revelations can often leave the writer so vulnerable.

    Mike, that’s lovely, to stand in the middle of not-knowing and to be okay with that. thank you.

    hello dear litlove, In the end, I’m interested in making the personal matter in a way that is not the same as opening your journal for all to read.

    Dear Floating Ink — That amazes me — it’s a wonderful story and says so much about your grandfather’s life.

    My dear Shoreacres, I’ve been away from my blog, and am only now just realizing you turned 100! I have to go over right away and bring you some pudding. xoxoxo

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