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Say Happy!!!

You already have everything you need to be happy!  Cyndi Lee

As long as you are seeking to find happiness somewhere, you are overlooking where happiness is . . . in your true nature.  Gangaji

I’ve watched it what seems like a million times.  I call it my “Happy Video.”  I’ve received many of them this fall, these brief thirty-second snippets of life in Moscow, Idaho focused through the lens on my daughter-in-law’s iphone camera.  And these little gems are the most precious gift that a grandparent who lives faraway could receive.  There’s the video of the early-September-version of toddler grandson Viren climbing the ladder on the shopping mall slide, plopping himself down at the tip-top and sweeping otter-like to the bottom on butt and back with a shriek of glee and a chortle that must be toddler-talk for “What a ride!”.   And there’s the late October-version of that same little guy, butt-naked and wet-haired after his evening bath, holding up his sweet soft baby doll for the camera at his mother’s request, then, also at her request, hugging his baby close and giving him a kiss, such a kiss of affection, before — and this is the best part — flinging him down without a second glance, just tossing him aside, and skitter-dancing off, butt to the camera, to whatever is striking his fancy next.  I love these videos, each one of them, but the Happy Video is my favorite.

I think his mother filmed this particular version of Viren in mid-November, shortly after I had returned home from a week-long Idaho-Grandma visit.  And during that visit, I had delighted in sixteen-month-old Viren’s vocabulary.  There was his clearly enunciated “hi”accompanied by a jaunty wave to every passerby on the street, and to every person in every car when we were waiting at the crosswalks, and the “bye” that was said with the same level of enthusiasm.  There was the “mama” and the “dada” and the something that I had hoped just might have been “grandma.” But, until I received the e-mail with the short video attachment, I’d never heard this happy little fellow say, “happy.”  “Say happy,” his mother’s voice from behind the iphone camera instructs.  And Viren, who is fiddling with some toy clutched in his hands, looks straight into the camera and says, in a deep confident clear voice, “happy.”  And then she requests it again: “Viren, say happy.”  And again, he looks straight into the camera, “happy”.   “Are you happy?” she asks.  And he nods his head up and down emphatically.  “Smile, Viren!” commands the voice from behind the camera.  And he does, a wide toothy smile.  And that’s it.  Thirty seconds of happy.

I’m not sure why the Happy Video tickles me so.  Perhaps it is the care that Viren takes in projecting this word into the phone or perhaps it is because his voice, for some reason, goes deep when he says the stretched out “hap-py” or maybe it’s simply because he is so darn cute.  It doesn’t matter why I feel happy when I push the arrow on my phone to get the video going.  I just know that I do —  I chortle like a toddler when I watch it.  And Thanksgiving, when Grandpa Cam and I found ourselves back in Idaho celebrating with Viren and his parents, I chortled with a toddler.  He loved the video as much as I did.  We played it over and over.  We shook with laughter; we guffawed as we watched.  It was primetime entertainment.  And happy little fellows — and Viren is a happy little fellow — even they have their moments, moments where the “happy” is buried deep inside.  And that was the state of affairs on the last evening of our Thanksgiving visit when Viren’s father and mother drove us down into the Lewiston Valley to a motel by the airport forty miles away from their home in Moscow.  Grandpa Cam and I were stuffed in the backseat of the car, me on the hump in the middle between Grandpa and Viren in his carseat.  And it was nearly bedtime for the usually-happy-toddler who fidgeted and rubbed his eyes and started to fuss  and that’s when I hauled it out, the trusty cell phone, and the Happy Video.  And for the last thirty miles of our venture, all the way down into the valley, he pushed the video’s start arrow, again and again, and watched himself say, “happy.”  First with a pensive face, then with that sweet smile and a happy dose of laughter.

It’s in there, this happiness.  In each one of us.  I just know that it is.  And I say this out loud in yoga each week, usually when we’re lying on our backs, knees splayed out wide, arms reaching for our toes or ankles or lower legs in Happy Baby Pose.  At one time, we were the happy baby, grabbing at our feet, stuffing our toes in our mouths, smiling so broadly that the whole room lit up.  And the happy toddler, too, waving our jaunty hellos to all who passed us by.  And it doesn’t disappear, this wellspring of well-being that sometimes is a soft coo and sometimes a raucous belly laugh.  It just gets buried underneath the weight of other feelings.   In yoga, I call it our natural state, this sense of well-being at our center.  Perhaps we also can think of it as our Happy Video.  And when we’re feeling a bit lost or out-of-touch, when we’re feeling fidgety and strapped in, cranky or overtired, when we need a lift, perhaps we can remember that it is up to us, that we can haul it out, this metaphoric video that shows us the happy version of ourselves.  And like Viren, perhaps we can keep pushing the play-arrow, again and again, until the weight is lifted and once again we feel our natural buoyancy and find ourselves remembering how good it feels to smile and say “happy.”

Say Happy!  Viren in the snow!

Say Happy!
Viren in the snow!  December, 2013



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