Chasing The Happy Hit

Photo by: Denise Jones on Unsplash.com

“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” – Omar Khayyam

So, I did something this weekend that I haven’t done in months. The last time I did it was way back in February. I think it was the last weekend in February? That’s, what, five months of not doing it? I can’t tell you how happy it made me. Dance, giggle like a little girl, and I might’ve squealed at one point because I needed to do it.

I love the word ‘It’ because, when used correctly, it makes everything sound so naughty. The simplest, purest, thing in the world suddenly sounds forbidden, scandalous, and torrid. It triggers the imagination and, if you’re anything like me, once that little bugger gets going there’s no stopping it. It’s a raging bull inside a dollar store. 

It’s cheap, easy, and made from plastic but if it gives you a second to pause, giggle, shake your head, and feel a shot of dopamine? IT’s a good thing.

What did I do this weekend that’s long overdue and brings so much happiness? I went for a hike. Is that what you were thinking? “It” equals hiking? No, that’s not a euphemism so this might be a bit of a letdown. Sorry to disappoint, but if you think this blog will ever be titillating then your disappointment will only grow deeper. 

Shake it off my friend and go for a hike! That’s what I did and I feel great. Refreshed. Rejuvenated. My mind is clear, and it’s running a million miles an hour. It’s exhilarating! If only my fingers could type as fast as my mind is thinking. There are so many spelling mistakes but I will fix them all. I hope. Probably. Might miss one or two but you’ll be okay with that. Right? Great. Damn decent of you!

Where was I? Doing it. Going hiking…Right! I’ve been a good little blogger and I’ve been following all of the guidelines for this pandemic. It’s my civic and social duty! And I’m deathly afraid of getting the virus, which, given my proclivity for ailments, isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Not just because it’s highly contagious, that’s a part of it, but I tend to catch the viruses. Like, all of the virus. I’m just waiting for the day when a doctor looks at me and screams, “The plague! The plague!”

Again, not out of the realm of possibility. Though I hope they handle it a lot better than that. Be a little more sensitive.

If you’re new, welcome to the zoo my new friend, I have chronic renal failure. Kidney disease. I’ve written more about it in the past, feel free to check out those posts, but for today I’ll skip to the juicy bits. After my kidneys failed, I had to have a kidney transplant which I did. Three of them. Yay!

The upside of a transplant: Life! The down sound: Immunosuppressants. 

Medication lowers my immune system because, if it was left as is, it would attack the new kidney. The transplanted kidney is, after all, a foreign body. The immune system is there to keep the body safe from anything that’s not supposed to be there. It can’t tell the difference between a splinter in the big toe or a life-saving organ transplant so it attacks everything. The only way to keep the transplant alive and functioning is to render the immune system useless.

Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. It’s not completely useless. It feels like it is because I catch every bacterial or viral infection known, or unknown, to humankind. Good thing we’re not currently experiencing a deadly global pandemic. That would be a nightmare!

Silence. Crickets. What? Oh right. Damn it!

Maybe it goes without saying, but I’ve been taking all of the recommendations very seriously. Washing my hands every five minutes. Wearing a mask when I go outside. Not going out unless I absolutely have too. Limiting time and exposure to other people. 

You know the drill by now, and I’m sure you’re decent enough to do your part. Which is more than I can say for some people. Those precious few who use words like “sheeple” and “scam-demic.” I have a few words for these people but I will refrain because, for this moment, I am actually feeling…Oh, what’s the word?

Right! I’m feeling happy. Oo, just typing the word on the page makes my fingertips tingle. How odd? I don’t feel the usual suffocating weight of depression sitting on my chest. I think I might even, oh dear…Yeah, I might giggle and I never giggle unless I’m very intoxicated.

This is a peculiar feeling and it’s kinda freaking me out. What do I do? What do I do? I don’t know what to do with this light, tingly, sensation known as happiness!

Inhale through the nose. One, two, three, four. Exhale through the mouth. One, two, three, four. Whew, I’m good now.

I’ve been taking this whole pandemic situation very seriously and I’ve avoided a lot of things, and places, that make me happy. I haven’t gone to the movies or out to dinner. I haven’t even gone to the grocery store in about four months. Thankfully, I have people who can do that for me so I don’t have to risk it.

I stopped going to my favourite trails because hiking requires exertion, and that means heavy breathing. Breathing releases particles and those little bastards could contain a deadly virus. Why risk it? Even if it is safer than a grocery store. Is it worth it? No, too many people have taken the risk and paid a very heavy price for it.

I’m not going to risk it.

But now, here in western Canada, our viral situation seems to be under control and we’re opening up again. We’re at level three, the highest we can go until there’s a vaccine, and so far our numbers are holding steady. There are still new cases every day but the number of active cases is going down. It’s a good sign! It’s not over, but we’ve done enough to flatten the curve and lower the risk.

So, from this immunocompromised person, thank you British Columbia, Canada, for all your hard work and for doing the right thing. I’m so thankful for all of you. Look how we’ve come together! We’ve looked after each other. We’ve put our communities before our own comfort. We’ve done it, we’re still doing it, and the rewards are slowly being felt. 

It’s amazing what we can do if we come together, isn’t it? And there I go! Feeling happy again. Arg, it’s weird.

Thanks to the diligent efforts of our health experts, and our communities, we’re slowly getting into our new normal. I’ve watched from the sidelines. Choosing caution over reckless optimism. You know, if this is some sort of trick played by…aliens? No! That’s just silly but I’m in a silly mood.

Despite the reopening, I’ve been reluctant to join in. I’m still scared of getting this virus. I don’t want to get sick, it sounds awful, so I’ve held back but this weekend I took one small step out into the world.

The park isn’t far from me and I went early. There were plenty of cars in the parking lot and I almost turned away but I grabbed my mask, my walking stick, and my dog. I set out on the trail, and it was magnificent. I walked through the forest until I came to the rocky wetlands. My legs were stiff and sore. They aren’t used to the terrain but they’ll get there. I took my time. I took in the scenery. I breathed in deep, and all the stress of the last few months just melted away.

Yes, I ran into a few people but I pulled up my mask and they did their best to keep a respectful distance. No-fuss. Respect other people’s boundaries. Enjoy the scenery. Maybe it’s the scenery that puts people into a good mood? There’s something about nature that makes everything feel like it’s going to be okay. No matter what’s going on, the trees still grow and the birds still fly. The wind rustles the leaves. Ducks land on the calm water.

In that moment, it feels like everything is going to be okay. Even after everything we’ve been through? Yeah, it feels like it’ll work out. And there I go! Being optimistic. What’s wrong with me? So out of character.

Did you have a list of things you thought you’d miss? At the beginning of all of this, when we were told to shelter in place, did you think of all the things that make you happy? The things you couldn’t do. The places you couldn’t go to. Has it held up?

I had a list of things that, I thought, made me happy but I was wrong. Sure, I missed them, but not nearly as much as the things I took for granted. Those things weren’t even on my list. I didn’t even think to put them on my list. I didn’t know how happy they made me until I couldn’t have them anymore.

Riding in the elevator with a neighbour and standing in the lobby of our building, talking for twenty minutes. I’m not even a people person! I’m a socially awkward introvert with moderate social anxiety. I thought, when this all started, that this was my moment. I’ve been training for this my whole life. No contact with other people? Hell ya! Bring it. But I missed seeing my neighbours. Even the racist woman who went on about “those people” and I called her an outbreak monkey.

My mouth, honestly, I have no control over it sometimes. She won’t let me pat her dog anymore. Oh well, I have my own puppy to pat so take that racist elevator lady.

Every weekend, before this started, I’d open my hiking app, pick a park, and go check it out. I didn’t know it made me so happy. I didn’t know how much I needed that time out in the woods or walking through marshy, rocky, wetlands. I didn’t know that it filled me up with energy and joy.

You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone? Even happiness?

Happiness, it’s something we spend our lives searching for but when we find it, we take it for granted. I take it for granted. I feel it. I’m grateful for it. My gratitude lasts a solid thirty minutes and then it’s off to chase the next hit of happy. A drug of sorts?

Sitting in the moment and feeling it. Letting it permeate deep into my mushy places. Experiencing it fully instead of looking for another hit. That’s rare for me but this weekend I stood by the water’s edge and felt it. I sat in it. Stewed in it. Let the flavours mix because my diet has been pretty bland lately. A steady stream of stress and anxiety isn’t good for anyone.

For me, it’s easier to stay in those dark moments, the stress and anxiety, than stay in the happier ones. I stay in the dark moments and I rush through the happy ones. I chase another happy. I need another hit. Maybe if I stayed in one moment a little longer, I wouldn’t need to keep running?

Staying in that moment, standing by the water’s edge, has carried over. Two days later, I’m still feeling calm and content. I walked for an hour but that hour made a world of difference. I feel stronger. I feel more level. I feel more present in this moment and I’m not rushing for the next. At least, not yet.

It’s a work in progress. I’m a work in progress. But this weekend I did it and I’m feeling happier than I have felt in a long time.

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