Come Home to Happiness
- How can you be so happy all the time? - Because I choose to
Happiness is a choice. We make this choice everyday, from the moment we wake up to the moment we tuck ourselves back in bed. We choose to be happy, or we choose to be unhappy. Choosing doesn't just mean the self-whispering: “I choose to be happy.” The actions that we take, together paint the picture of our choice. Many of us choose to be unhappy our whole life.
Choose to be happy means choose to be ourselves and to live our life. Not to be somebody else, or to live somebody else’s life. To talk, and walk, and see, and breathe the way only we know how.
I was born an artist, a dancer, a poet, a writer, a painter. That was everything that has ever interest me. I was never interested in number or equations. Never. I was only interested in the beauty of details, day dreaming, the sweetness of moment, the pointed toes of dancers, the voice of my grandfather reciting poetry, the elegance turn of a sentence.
I chose to be happy the moment I started walking the path of an artist. When I make dance, write, draw, I enter the flow, I am nobody, in no time, no place. I lose the sense of self. It’s paradoxical, to be yourself is to lose yourself. What’s left is the present melting slowly like honey flowing from a spoon to a cup of tea. Immense happiness, infinite joy. I am alive.
And happiness comes, not as an hard-earned prize, but a by-product of me being myself.
This is what I know: happiness is always knocking our door. Sometimes we are inside our house, but we don't pay attention so our door is shut. Sometimes we are not even home. We have ventured and get lost in somebody else’s house. Mistaken it as our own. We use somebody else’s furniture, speak somebody else’s voice, eat somebody else’s food, do somebody's job, befriend somebody else’s friend, make love to somebody else's lover.
So the more you're at home, the more you hear the knocking of happiness. The more you can keep your door opened for it to surge in.
There is this expression in Vietnam: “To become somebody.” “Keep trying and soon you're going to make a name for yourself and become somebody.” But this master-plan is faulty. What is the point of operating in this big small world, walking about in this short precious life as a “somebody”? Be yourself. Be yourself now.
When I let go of everything: all the nonsense notions of "success", all ambitions, all self-judgment, all expectations, all worries, all the chattering of the mind. What's left is the pure raw pulsing life force - my Self, my being.
So I've learnt that: be yourselves - come home - is not a matter of acquiring. It’s a matter of letting go. There’s no need to acquire yourself, because you always have yourself. You simply need to drop the egos, the masks, so you can finally see your own face in the mirror.
Breathe it out. Let it go through your nostrils as you exhale.
I love how Yoga Master Erich Schiffmann explains Savasana - Death Body, the final pose of yoga. You lie down on your back; eyes closed; legs are straight; feet hips-width apart, spread open; arms by your side; palms facing up. He says: "Let go of everything and see what's left." You lie there in Death Body. You die. And in the death of the false self - the egos. You find you.
If you were born a dancer, you gotta dance. If you were born a writer, you gotta write. You gotta come home, through your pointed toes or your three fingers wrapping around the fountain pen. If you were born to be a mathematicians, the only way for you to find happiness is hunching over a stack of paper creating equations. Wherever you are, come home. Because out there, happiness is nowhere to be found.
And when you’ve came home, don’t forget to open your door. Pay attention. Be mindful and alert to the sweetness of present. Allow yourself to stop, as you drive by West Lake at 5:30PM, to watch the orange sunset. It’s so glorious, the whole meaning of life is wrapped around that sunset. Breathe it all in. Keep your door open, let the wind of happiness blow into you.
Happiness blew into me the other day, when I was standing in my kitchen, waiting for the water to boil. I felt it! I smiled with the steaming kettle. Happiness blew another time when I was driving through a busy dirty road. The truck in front of me blew dust at my face; but I giggled. Happiness blew one afternoon when my father drove me to grandparents’ house, the rain caught us my surprise! It showered! My father stopped the motorbike, took our his green raincoat. We shared one raincoat and continue driving – something you find only in Vietnam. I scooched under it. I closed my eyes to listen to the rain pouring its heavy drops on top of my head.Then I opened my eyes, gazed down to watch water droplets on the concrete road. I smelled my dad’s smell: dark and bitter, with a hint of cigarette. I felt like a little girl; even though I had grown taller than him. My back was wet because the raincoat couldn't cover me any more. But I didn’t let him know; I enjoyed this so much. My arms wrapped around his big waist. My fingers could barely reach his navel.
I was happy, so happy. In that moment of tenderness - something we have not had for a very long time. Just me and my father – my daddy. Our 4-kilometer road trip, our little adventure, that afternoon under heavy summer rain.
Daddy, when I was small you went to business trips often. So it was grandfather who took me to school on his rusty bicycle. Once in a while, you came home for the weekend and the following Monday you would take me to school on your Dream Honda motorbike, the same one we are driving right now. I always kissed you on your left cheek as we said goodbye. Do you remember that? The kiss of your little girl.
Daddy, I am so happy. I want to tell you all about this moment. But I cannot, I no longer know how. We have grown so far apart now. But daddy, I hope you feel my love. My love is warm, pulsing at the fingertips; I wrap them around your belly.
I cried so much writing this article. Only by writing this article do I realize how torn I am between the love and the estrangement I feel towards my father. But I'm not afraid of tears. Water cleanses, washes it all out. That's why I love writing so much. Writing turns the light on all the broken pieces within me. So I can put them together with a special glue called Self-Love. I hope this story makes feel healed, and cleansed, and loved. Because even though I don't know who you are, I love you.