Sunday, February 5, 2012


I'm watching The Hours and I don't know why I'm doing it. Because tears are streaming down my face. Why is happiness so frequently elusive? And a moment of true happiness, author Michael Cunningham suggests, usually takes place on the most ordinary morning in a life, when the person living that life may disregard the moment. It passes them by.

We do not always consciously acknowledge moments of happiness. Instead, we tuck them in our back pockets, barely aware of their beauty, thinking they will declare themselves only once they add up. We expect them to build upon each other.

Sometimes they do. And sometimes they don't.

When I look back, my conscious moments of happiness are moments tinged with triumph and gratitude. Taking my first shower, after the birth of my daughter, in Caracas. That one stands out as extraordinary. It had to do with recognition: Your life will never be the same.

My life has been full of happiness and I know this and feel it. But there is one simple moment that stands out in my mind. It was a moment of conscious happiness. I was aware of it at the time. In 1993, I traveled from Moscow to Buenos Aires. I had traveled alone, except for my baby, Elliot. Ben had stayed in Moscow with our older two and I went to visit some of my dearest friends in Argentina. The miracle of being able to make this endless journey with an infant son, to see beloved friends, all the way from Russia, seemed to me extraordinary. There I was. I had arrived. But more than that, I'd returned. I had made, what was for me, an epic journey.

My conscious moment of happiness took place in a courtyard cafe with my friend Pedro Grieco. It was an ordinary morning in Buenos Aires. It was the kind of perfect weather I must have lived a hundred times in the four years I lived in that city. But now I was here once again, partaking of something extraordinary. We sat at a table. Pedro was writing postcards, and I was opposite with my infant Elliot, then just four months old. Nothing was expected. We ordered coffee. Here I was at the furthest reaches of the globe, and I felt the peace of the moment. Acceptance. Nothing expected that couldn't be given freely.

If you had to pick a moment you were aware of pure happiness, what would yours be?

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