I love my friend Lauren. She’s bubbly and supportive and whip-smart. We shared an office at my last job and she was the sole reason I survived the first month, answering important questions like the location of the Post-Its and the best coffee. She made me laugh when she talked to herself at her desk and patiently listened to me vent more times than I care to admit. We both got sugar cravings midafternoon we agreed were absolutely essential to satisfy. Basically, she’s fantastic.
If there’s one thing I can say about her – and myself, as it runs in our event planner veins – it’s that control is a big deal. Her files are perfectly organized, her handwriting might as well be a font, and she even noticed when I redirected her desk lamp the teensiest bit one day. While this makes us great at our jobs, it can sometimes cross the line into our personal lives and leave us locked up in debilitating ways.
Lauren’s dad fell suddenly ill and she jumped on a flight back home to be with her family. I’m glad to say he’s doing well now, but at the time, it shook her to the core and sent her into deep thought. That weekend, as she spent time with her little nephew at the beach, my normally clean-and-orderly friend found herself getting sand on their good clothes and in every imaginable corner of the car. And for the first time in a long time, she didn’t care. She was home, her family was together, and her priorities were clear. Play now. Be happy now. Live now.
Upon hearing her story, my reply was instantaneous.
“Happiness is messy.”
Happiness doesn’t come shrink wrapped and sanitized. It’s not safe or predictable or even fair. It will defy your need to control it and it will not follow your plan. Because happiness is untidy and bold and a little chaotic. It requires you to show up before you’re perfect. It says to come play even though there’s no scoreboard and no trophy. It asks you to let life be loose and broken and sticky and right now. Your nephew is giggling in his Sunday best in the sand right now. Your fledgling new business is sputtering forward into the best and worst possibilities right now. Your recently demolished heart is learning to hope for love again by watching your newlywed best friends create their home right now. This is happiness. right now.
The skeleton key to it all is the reality that happiness is a choice. Life will constantly deal you good and bad, hard and easy, just and unjust. That’s the mess. If your only vision of happiness is a flawless, neat package of a life, once you’ve had time to edit out the difficulties and the dirt, you’re going to miss it. Yes, happiness is hard work. Yes, happiness is elusive, ever changing. But it’s there, right there for the taking, so dig in and get a little messy.