What is Your Happiness?
Updated: Aug 8, 2018
For best part of the last 30 years I have been intrigued by the old man who lived on a farm with his big black horse, 30 head of cows on a few rolling acres. I can’t even tell you what intrigues me the most… the fact that he didn’t seem to have power, that he lived alone, that he could survive without so many modern day advancements and yet seemed to be happy? But I’m not even sure I would use the word happy… I’m still deciding.
I’ve never had a conversation with this man (except the one time he came to the beer gardens at July 1st and he asked me for a beer, then he proceeded back to his truck to drink it and I was too scared to tell him it was against the rules) so I can’t even really tell you a lot about who he was. I can tell you what I assumed from the few encounters I did have with him and the stories I made up every time I had the opportunity.
One of my very first times that I chanced upon him was when I was on my home from our field and I came across his cows on the road. Being neighborly I stopped to not spookthem and I started to get out of my truck to help him put them back in. Now I can’t remember all the gestures that came my way but there was a fist shaking in the air, a scowl and waving arms that suggested that I continue on my merry way! I somehow felt that it was my fault that his cows got out and all I knew was that I better get out of Dodge and fast.
My favorite time was when my husband and I fenced right across from his yard and I could stare over and make up all kinds of stories in my mind about his life. His cows would come up to their fenceline and look over at us. I couldn’t help but think that they were much friendlier than he was!
I felt a certain envy for this man who found it so easy to live without conveniences. In the summer the door to his shack/house would stay open until he was ready for the darkness and then it would close. I always wanted to sneak a peak in that house… how did he cook, stay warm, see in the dark, were the sheets on his bed clean…?
As I gathered many stories over the years, I couldn’t help but respect him in so many ways. He really didn’t care what anybody else thought, he didn’t really care if anyone liked him… and in this solace he was comfortable with who he was. He didn’t need anyone else and he knew how to spend his time that didn’t keep him running from one event to the next.
Even though I didn’t know a stitch about this man, I couldn’t help thinking he had it way more together than most people I know. And in all of that I think there has to be a great amount of happiness.
Seriously, what if we didn’t need to think about what the neighbors thought, or how something looks to the outside world? What if we didn’t need approval for anything we did or implied? What if the judgements from others really didn’t matter and we simply lived our lives on our own terms? I think that might just be happiness….
The past 2 winters this old man has moved intothe local town, likely from the concern of well meaning people who want to make sure he is comfortable. The first winter I felt a little sad, wondering how someone like him (and the story I had told myself about him) would fair around people… all the time. But last spring when I saw him back out in his yard, I had a little smile inside knowing that life was back to the way he liked it, on his own terms. Things were right in the world again.
This year though we are well into spring and I drove by his house today…. And the door to his shack/house was held shut by a crowbar. This spring he didn’t make it back to his home and this makes me sad. I’m hoping he is able to find a way to live his life on his own terms no matter where he is. Because as long as there are people like him in the world, I know there are people who live their own authentic life… Not one prescribed to them by well meaning people who know ‘the right thing to do’, but by listening to the little voice inside, the only voice that knows what true happiness is.
So I guess my question at the end of the day is …
Am I living my life on my own terms?
Am I worried about who does and doesn’t like me?
Do I concern myself with the judgments of others?
And if I am, what can I learn from this old man, his big black horse and his 30 cows living on a few rolling acres?......
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