Happiness Found

I love adding a new book to my bookshelf. It means: 1. I’ve read it. And 2. I’ve read it and loved it and want to keep it forever. Today I joyfully added Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning to my humble little library. I also began weaving the hem for my tapestry on the “big” loom. I always say “big” when referring to it because although it’s the largest loom I own, most weavers would use it for weaving small samples.

I haven’t sat at the big loom for many many months, well over a year, which is odd for me as I used to be practically glued to it. But life happened and that’s a whole other story, for another day…

As I’m sitting on my floor pillow, the window open to the unusually warm February day, I was hit with a tidal wave of nostalgia. I reminisced on how far this loom has travelled with me, all of the memories it holds, even the smell of the wooden frame that supports it. The most pronounced piece of furniture I own, it commands the attention of whoever walks into the room, and creates a sense of deep reverence and awe. It doesn’t merely keep my in-progress weavings square and under tension, it has also become a sort of altar, the place I come to when I want to lay my burdens down, clear my head, heal my heart, and hear spirit’s call to me to make something beautiful.

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Like many people, I experienced a lot of frustration, anxiety, and worry in my twenties, but I knew I could unburden my heaviness at the feet of this loom, and in that place find a light, joyful, and inspiring voice deep within me. When life as a young adult felt too tricky and confusing, I knew I could turn to my weaving and find hope.

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I mentioned Man’s Search for Meaning earlier because many of the anecdotes and stories that Frankl presents remind me of this younger me. Without really knowing it at the time, there was a guiding light underneath all of the challenges I was facing; a sense of purpose and responsibility for my happiness. Many passages from this book stand out for me, but this one in particular speaks of my own experiences…

“…it is a characteristic of the American culture that, again and again, one is commanded and ordered to “be happy.” But happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to “be happy.””

Happiness cannot come from outside of us.  We must create it ourselves, and let it shine from the inside out.  This is what becomes our guiding light.  Frankl continues…

“Once the reason is found, however, one becomes happy automatically. As we see, a human being is not one in pursuit of happiness but rather in search of a reason to become happy… through actualizing the potential meaning inherent and dormant in a given situation.”

Life isn’t about forcing ourselves to be happy when everything just feels like crap.  Like Frankl says, happiness is an effortless byproduct of living out the reasons that bring us happiness. Maybe those reasons are cooking or volunteering or writing or dancing or hiking or listening to music.  Once we find our reason(s), we can look at life in a totally new and optimistic way, with a sense of purpose and meaning.

Today when I sit at my humble big little loom, I’m reminded of how far I’ve come, how far we’ve come. We not only moved across the country together, but we’ve been through heartache and uncertainty, exhilaration and joy. I remember the young woman weaving late into the night because she was too afraid to fall asleep, and the loom comforted her. It gave her a place to be the alchemist of her life, taking the threads of hope and grace and weaving them into shimmering, colorful, and joyful tapestries.

Thanks for reading and happy creating!

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