I love this. I share with you today a brilliant poem and extracts from a brilliant commentary. I hope it carries as much meaning for you as it does for me. Read it slowly, take it in. Find happiness (or rather, let happiness find you), and live in it. Be you.
So Much Happiness, by Naomi Shihab Nye
It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up,
something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.
But happiness floats.
It doesn’t need you to hold it down.
It doesn’t need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
and disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
and now live over a quarry of noise and dust
cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own,
it too could wake up filled with possibilities
of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
and love even the floor which needs to be swept,
the soiled linens and scratched records…
Since there is no place large enough
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,
and in that way, be known.
Extracts from Roger Housden’s comment on this poem in his ten poems to set you free:
Whether you live in beautiful surroundings or on the edge of a working quarry makes no difference to happiness because its source, finally, is not in the world of contingencies. Happiness is an expression of our intrinsic nature, which has no reason for anything other than the fact of its existence.
We do not create this degree of happiness, remember, any more than we can create who we already are. It cannot be attained by a five-point plan or the latest self-help strategy. When we fall into who we are (as if by chance) happiness is evident in the air, and spills over onto everything.
While happiness seems to descend by accident, however, I am sure we can make ourselves accident-prone. Taking in the buoyancy of this poem can help us be more susceptible to it. Seeing the possibility of happiness, distinguishing it from the contentment of material comfort, and also from the excitement, the exuberance, of the high points in our lives – this can make it more likely to strike us.
What is happening when you are happy, then, is you. Who you are is happiness, and when you are who you are you are naturally happy. This, surely, is what this poem is beckoning us to: to the weightless freedom at our core.