I choose to be happy, she whispered to herself.
To the clear water that enveloped her. To the sky that could hardly be differentiated from the rippling surface above.
It was the boldest and easiest choice she ever made.
I understand that life shouldn’t be wasted. I understand that happiness means love, and love grows through gratitude. I understand that to live this way is my choice to make.
Holding her breath, sparks started to appear before her eyes.
Happiness is being right here, right now. The water on my skin, the longing for oxygen, the trust that it’s coming.
She understood that her past shaped her, but wasn’t her. That the good could be treasured and the bad accepted, but that was all. There was no use poking fingers in wounds to inspect them. That only hurt, only made them worse.
She understood happiness was a right, and one that didn’t require circumstances and checked boxes. It stemmed from simply being in the experience of life—in the good moments, the terrible moments, the boring and repetitive moments. Climbing a mountain to watch the sun rise, losing someone you love, washing the dishes. A love of being here interwoven with an acknowledgement that it’s temporary.
Happiness is love, she thought. Directed, specific love and all-encompassing, always present love. She was on the water’s surface now, floating on her back. The tide gently pulled her toward the left.
What else truly matters besides love? To be happy is to love.
A favorite song came back to her, one she’d listened to as a child, then as a teenager, then as an adult. Its meaning changed for her each time—The Beatles’ lyrics becoming less profound in some ways and more profound in others.
There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done
Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung
Nothing you can say, but you can learn how to play the game
Nothing you can make that can’t be made
No one you can save that can’t be saved
Nothing you can do, but you can learn how to be you in time
All you need is love, all you need is love
It was easy. It didn’t require ability or luck or uniqueness—just a choice.
She chose to be happy, and by doing that she chose to live through love. As she dried off on the sand, thoughts scratched at her. They carried shame, failure, grief, regret, and fear. They whispered at her to follow them, but she chose not to. She was not them and they were not her; she could separate herself if she wanted to.
She chose happiness, and she would make that choice every day to come.
Author: Mary Conroy Almada
Image: Author’s own
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman