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Happiness by the Moments

A few days ago, I was standing on the side of the road, on my way to one of my cousins' birthday parties, waiting for my mama to come and pick me up because I had only gone there once, and I couldn't remember the way. I had nothing to do as I waited; even though he was coming by car, their house was still pretty far off, so it was taking a while. But I didn't mind. Over the years I had developed this weird, callous sense of time, where I lose myself too much into thoughts random and unremembered, muddled recollections, musings, instincts, all jumbling up into this meshed up mess of sheer arbitrariness, and I lose track of where things and how things are altogether. It'll happen every few minutes or so, I'll find myself coming back out of my reverie, and though I know how I physically am and where, I have no idea exactly what I was thinking the moment before, before I came back down to Earth. But that explanation was redundant. Basically, I wasn't bored there, waiting, watching things I was constantly forgetting, letting life, with the wind, whizz past me, uncaring.

Now, what happened next, I think of as being one moment, though it took place over a few seconds. Thirty at the most. When I recollect back on what happened, I don't go step by step. I don't think this happened, then this, then that. I will have to explain it that way, but, when I do think about it, I think of it as being one, giant, tiny, momentous step. Even as I am about to explain it, I know I will not be able to recreate how it felt to be exactly there, in that frame of time and space, and also, that I have given it too much of a superfluous introduction for it to be merited with any sort of significance.

So, I'm standing there. I'm lost in one of those reveries, not sure where I am. There are headphones in my ears, whispering some form of melancholia. For the tiniest length of time, just before I am broken out of the trance, just for this minimalist nanosecond, there is confusion about my physical presence. I collect my thoughts, separate them, put them into neat little boxes with properly marked labels. I look up to see that there is a line of cars, one behind the car, stopped, waiting on the traffic light. Exactly opposite me, there's an SUV, or so I think, because my perception of the details are blurry. In the car, on the other side, I know there's a woman on the wheel, but that's all I remember of her. I don't recall one single, unique feature about her. Beside her, on my side of the car, there's this girl, I can't guess her true age; I assume she's no more than ten. She has golden hair, and of course, she's white, and the sun's falling directly on it, and on her face. I can't describe her face properly because it gets blurred by the shortness of the memory, and the normality of her features. There she is, shining, and for this incredible point in time, our eyes meet, and she, this stranger of a little girl, smiles this innocent smile, void of anything serious or sad or miserable I can think of, and she lifts one of her hands up, and she waves at me. I don't freeze or do something stupid, or do something incredulously embarrassing, no. I take my left hand out of my jacket pocket and wave back. Just then, the car starts to move, and from the corner of my eye I can see the traffic light change to green, and as she moves with it, her smile widens, and her hand, that tiny, insignificant-turned-significant hand, tips childishly from one side to the other, and rolls away, gone.

As I thought about it, after it had passed, I realised how amazingly beautiful that moment was. This complete, platonic, utterly and ridiculously unexpected thing just happened, so small and yet so huge in context, this person so different to me, white, blond, ten years old, this stranger, and a connection that I could feel, almost. I realise that I have just ranted on, expanded on a moment for more than seven hundred words, but that moment, that moment stretched timeless, I absolutely fell in love with that moment. And I could've sworn, for the few moments after that, temporary as it was, I was happy, all misery forgotten.

Later on, when I relayed this to a friend of mine, she said maybe that's exactly what happiness is. Because happiness isn't a stable state of existence, especially when you idiotically strive for meaning, and overthink, and overanalyse, every aspect of your life. She told me of the little big moments that made her happy, and how they sustain her 'til the next moment comes along, and they overlap, to create this beautiful web of temporarily permanent happiness. When I told her that I didn't get those moments often enough for them to overlap, she told me I had to go find them myself. Easier said than done, and unrealistic, because, I wondered whether there was really any point searching, but rather, letting the hope of randomly bumping into these moments sustain us, but I understood the simplicity of just trying.

Happiness is a concept so often discussed but so rarely defined, that suddenly, after that period, I couldn't figure out if I had been happy all this time and just not realised it, despite the immense amount of misery I, or anyone else for that matter, had been going through. This sounds a bit over the top, and overused and clichéd, but to take each individual, underrated, overlooked happening in our life, and to just ponder on it, muse on the fact that it happened, to be completely flabbergasted by the fact that it did, and expand it to cover pages, might just be another way of finding happiness when you feel like you've just about had it. Or if you just need something to smile about. The moment is always now.

By S. N. Rasul


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