Last November, I was walking down a side street in lower Manhattan, thinking about how unhappy I was, how unhappy everyone seemed to be, and how our many miseries kept ricocheting off of one another. And then, as I pulled my phone out of my pocket, probably to tweet about misery, a ray of sunlight fell across the back of my hand in a perfect line. I stood there on the street, turning my hand this way and that way, marveling at the golden quality of the light. “Like honey,” I thought and then held onto the thought for a moment before I started walking again. A few blocks later, I tweeted: “It is increasingly difficult for me to vibe with people—even keen, talented people—who are salty about everything all the time. Gotta have some sweetness in this life. I believe in the intelligence of honey.”
It’s funny; so much of what we write online under the guise of communicating with others is really just an ongoing conversation we’re trying to have with our selves.
My mother named me “Saeed” because of its association with “happiness and fortune.” When I am not happy, when I am depressed, I often beat myself up for not living up to my name, for not being who I am. But that November day was different; I decided to go looking for some honey.
I found what I was looking for in a sweater I bought a few hours later. The fuzzy wool was bright yellow like marigolds, like the cartoon honey Winnie the Pooh climbed trees to find, like the color of joy itself. Posing for myself in the dressing room and later, in my bathroom, I felt like I had pulled off a coup! I’d noticed joy (and how different it felt from the gloom that had become my baseline) and decided to invest in it. I found something that honored my happiness and would allow me to remember it when needed.
Sure, it was just a trick of light. Sure, it was just a wool sweater. But I know that what I felt was its own kind of wisdom.
Almost a year later, it’s Autumn again but still too warm to put on that wool sweater, but that’s okay because, generally speaking, I am happy. I feel less like the sad man walking down the street, suddenly illuminated and more like the light itself. I don’t know if I will feel this way for much longer which is why I’m typing so quickly right now.
I’ve made some changes. I’m not sure if my job in media and living in New York City were responsible for my misery or if they were simply reflecting my misery back at me. Either way, I don’t have that job anymore and I don’t live in that city anymore. I write full-time; my memoir comes out next week; I live in Columbus, Ohio (more on that later.) Honey, honey, honey.
So, I’ve decided to start a little project here where I write small essays about people, places and things that make me happy and what I’m learning from that happiness. This idea owes a great debt to Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights. He wrote about small “delights” everyday for a year! Buy a copy for yourself and for someone you love; if you don’t, you will very quickly realize you wish you had and then you’ll have to stop reading and buy a second copy anyway so just do it now from the jump. With his inspiration in mind, let’s get happy together.
In the meantime, tell your friends!