Scheduling Happiness

waldenpond

It was 1987, and we were taking our first real vacation, thanks to the tremendous growth of the mutual fund into which I’d wisely poured our money. It was autumn, so we opted for New England, one of the few places that actually looks like a Photoshopped fall calendar.

After a bumpy start, literally—our plane bounced violently and then lurched to the left upon landing in Boston (Co-pilot to Pilot: “Wake up, Dave, we’re here”)—and a long delay getting to our foul smelling “view” hotel, which, in fact, featured a panoramic view of an industrial complex, my wife and I began irritably blaming each other.

All portents pointed to disaster. But we were there, so… We argued our way out of the reservation and drove in tense silence to a chain hotel at the edge of the city. When we got to our upper floor room, we were stunned: it had a breathtaking and completely unadvertised view. The cords of tension began to loosen. A little.

The next day, we drove to Walden Pond. As a young man, I’d cherished my copy of Thoreau’s Walden, and had always wanted to visit the book’s setting. What we saw immediately re-drew the image in my mind. Rather than the puddle I’d imagined, Walden Pond turned out to be a good-sized lake that mirrored the most beautiful color-saturated woods I’d ever seen. My wife and I walked, talked, prayed and forgave–and began falling back in love again. We determined for the rest of the trip to avoid all vestiges of “the real world” (newspapers, television). There would be only us and God, and His splendid handiwork.

The next day, we met up with one of my wife’s old friends. She commented on how “honeymoonerish” we were, and then asked what we thought about the “crash.” “What crash?” A quick glance in the Boston Globe revealed that, while we’d been placidly strolling Walden, the biggest bear in history had been charging down Wall Street. They were calling it “Black Monday.”

Thanks to my wise investment strategy, we were more financially in the hole than when we’d gotten married. Yet at the same moment we were relationally stronger than we’d ever been. Sensing the latter was far more important, we chose not to let bold Fear drive diffident Happiness away.

Our Autumn in New England was everything we’d hoped for and more. Because Happiness decided to join us for the rest of the trip. Our money took a little longer to show up, but a year later our mutual fund was actually worth more than it had been on Black Monday.

You can’t schedule happiness. But you can focus on the Waldens rather than the Wall Streets, on people rather than things. Because those are, coincidentally, what Happiness values the most. So when it does decide to visit,

it might just stick around for a while.  

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Scheduling Happiness

  1. Great post, Mitch. And by the way, though I haven’t been commenting as much, your posts have helped me a lot. I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put in a lot of humor and wisdom into your posts. Thanks so much, and happy Thanksgiving!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. really?!? I was hoping to book happiness for next Wednesday … sigh. 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Ron Whited says:

    Seriously good stuff Mitch.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Great post!!! Thanks for the reminder!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Jennwith2ns says:

    If you ever come back to New England, I can recommend an excellent bed and breakfast in NH, and/or even give you guys a tour. Thirty years later should be about right, right? 😁

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Yes, they are only numbers on a page (or a screen). Happiness is in the heart. Great post.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. BelleUnruh says:

    Lovely story, Mitch, and I’m glad you made your money back.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Nancy Ruegg says:

    You’re right: happiness doesn’t always show up when we expect it to, but we can surely find it if we look in the right places–usually right under our noses among the people we love. Thank you, Mitch, for the thoughtful post!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Love this so much! I would also love to see Walden’s Pond. Some of my favorite quotes were written there…

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Focus on the Waldens rather than the Wall Streets… I LOVE that! Awesome post once again, Mitch!

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Joan says:

    Pitch perfect, Mitch.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. smzang says:

    Pieces like this one make the Web a better place.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Jennie says:

    A great post, Mitch!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Precious! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Great story, Mitch. New England in October is amazingly beautiful. Our favorite vacation was a week driving around Maine staying at B&Bs and eating lobster every day.
    Happy Thanksgiving, my friend.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Ann Coleman says:

    What a great story! And so true. We are happy when we choose to be and allow us to be, not when everything around us lines up perfectly. One of the nicest Christmases my husband and I ever had was the year his job was on the line (I was staying home with the kids, making very little money as writer) and we all came down with colds. But despite that, we had a wonderful, if not magical, Christmas Eve and Day.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Great read. I especially enjoyed this part:

    “You can’t schedule happiness. But you can focus on the Waldens rather than the Wall Streets, on people rather than things. Because those are, coincidentally, what Happiness values the most.”

    I am definitely focusing on the Waldens! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Great combination of honesty, vulnerability and a valuable lesson we all need to take to heart. We had a similar New York City experience (minus Black Monday). We’ve learned that ‘leaving it all behind’ often doesn’t happen until after we recover from the travel and settle in a bit. Bottom line, vacations are valuable investments in family and marriage! Thank you so much for sharing your story and your heart! Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Pingback: Scheduling Happiness — Mitch Teemley – Kristalin Davis' Musings on the Human Condition

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  21. gpavants says:

    Hi Mitch,

    Amen. The Lord has out times in His hands. This is the second blog today that reminded me to invest all I have in the Lord: money, time, energy, etc. Hope all is good with you and the Lord give you strength and wisdom for today.

    In Christ, Gary

    On Mon, Nov 20, 2017 at 10:15 AM, Mitch Teemley wrote:

    > mitchteemley posted: ” It was 1987, and we were taking our first real > vacation, thanks to the tremendous growth of the mutual fund into which I’d > wisely poured our money. It was autumn, so we opted for New England, one of > the few places that actually looks like a Photoshopped ” >

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Yes, great story. I do enjoy Thoreau’s thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

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