I’m coming off a high induced by playing a rudimentary version of Hide and Seek with C. After dinner, I put in The Fox and the Hound just to see if she was interested in watching it. She wasn’t, but she was wily. She was ready to play that brand of play that possesses babies like the Holy Spirit at a big tent revival. There is something about the interim period between the end of dinner and the beginning of her bedtime ritual that makes the air electric and charged with that same guileless air she wears so effortlessly all the time. We all become possessed and absorbed in hunting each other down and possibly devouring each other.
I was seized when I was in my closet putting some clothes away. Something primal clicked in the reptilian part of my brain, and I just hid. I pushed myself between hanging sweaters and shirts, clicked off the light, and just waited.
Tiny fingers wrapped around the door frame and peeked inside.
The sound of a toddler screeching in glee is what is keeping the human race going. I was afraid her face would turn inside-out, her cheeks could physically not contain the grin it held.
I rushed across the apartment to her bedroom and hid in the space between her open door and the wall. I learned that in the twenty or so years since I earnestly played Hide and Seek, I evidently never outgrew my inability to giggle while I waited to be detected. She humored me, though, and basically passed out in sheer hysteria when I jumped from behind the door with my arms outstretched like a good-humored Boogeyman.
Sometimes I have the inclination to apologize for the good things that happen to me. I have been told that I am not very good at taking complements. When joy and good fortune enter my life, I often pass them off as something I never really earned.
But I am embracing the beauty of my life, including this little girl whose joy is so raw and unrefined and inherently her. I recently started reading Happiness Is Not a Disease. Every time I see its title in my Reader, I talk back to it as if it’s reminding me personally that my happiness is not on loan. It is my own, paid in full.
“Happiness is not a disease.”
“That’s true. It’s not. Stop apologizing for yourself, Emily.”
This happiness we experience every day is nothing to feel ashamed of. The electricity of a game of Hide and Seek is not an element outside of myself that chooses to overtake me when it pleases. It is part of me, and I am allowed to celebrate it even if the world outside of the walls of my life is screaming at me to put my own happiness on hold and mourn for it. It is when scary, disturbing things in the world happen that I am in most need of the safety net of an after dinner game with my baby. By relishing her joy, I am made a better human for the world that needs me.
I am populating my life with moments of joy and allowing myself to savor them.
What is your happy place?