I leaned back in the water and felt the wave gently rock me from side to side. My friends — my adopted family — chattered in the distance, their voices blending into a perfect harmony of happiness.
I was there existing, floating, embracing all the things around to form a perfect afternoon: the sunshine on my face, the sounds of nature and laughter, the smell of the lake and the feeling of presence.
My mind was shut off. I wasn’t thinking, arguing, trying to figure out a witty retort to a friend who went on about being left out of the bracelet club.
Now I’m sure at this point some of you have read this and want to know exactly the flavor of medicinal tonic I’ve imbibed on this Monday afternoon, and the answer is none.
I’m in a good mood.
It’s funny to write those words: “I’m in a good mood.”
But think about this, cousins: How often can you look back over a period of time be it a day, a week, a month or even a year and think, ‘I was really happy?’
Sunday afternoon, I was truly happy.
Author Charoltte Bronte wrote: “There is no happiness like that of being loved by your fellow creatures, and feeling that your presence is an addition to their comfort.”
Happiness is a choice and an emotion a lot of us struggle with as the rates of depression continue to climb.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United State affecting an estimated 40 million adults age 18 or older, or 18.1% of the population every years.”
For some people, happiness is a choice. They actively choose to be happy.
Others actively choose to be miserable. We’ve seen the people standing in line at grocery stores or department stores, huffing and puffing because the overwhelmed sales clerk or checker-outer is taking — in their educated and informed opinion — too long to fulfill their self-important needs.
The New Orleans band Cowboy Mouth has an answer to people like that: “You beat yourself up just to bring yourself down. Let it go.”
But what about those 18% in the middle who want to be happy, but come off as dour or listless because mentally there is a war waging in their head that leaves them physically and emotionally drained and to the outside toxic.
Yes, people can be toxic. Look at today’s currently litany of politicians for a great example.
But those of you who aren’t battling this or who have overcome it serve as lifelines to those still battling.
Quoting my favorite writer Hunter S. Thompson: “So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?”
A boat pulling a tube pulls through the slough and causes a cacophony of waves to ruminate throughout the waters yet still I float on. The music and the laughter keeping me centered.
Then something from the depths of Lake Martin brushes my butt, all of that “being centered and happy” goes to hell as I sink and try to figure out what just got me and if I can out swim it.
It’s that simple.
Griffin Pritchard is a regular columnist and correspondent for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.