Sometimes you’re fifteen, staring out the window of a car, pressing your nose against the glass as the highway blurs past your vision. You’re wondering whether he loves you, what you’ll do if he doesn’t. You’re imagining yourself years down the road, maybe in your own car, driver’s seat. Perhaps you’ll finally have it all figured out, maybe even be happy. A warmth bubbles in your chest and you hold onto that feeling as long as you can. One day, you think, one day.
Sometimes you’re twenty-three, washing dishes in a five-bedroom house, your roommates walking around in guarded silence, everyone far too busy to sit down and talk. You watch the weeds dance in the summer wind right beyond the kitchen window. You wonder what you’re doing here, what you’ll do next. You’re wondering if you’ll ever get over him, if that hole in your heart will ever heal. You’re thinking of yourself somewhere else, maybe a house of your own with windows overlooking the ocean. One day, you think, one day.
Sometimes you’re thirty-seven, children playing tag between your feet, their yogurt-covered faces leaning up to give you a messy kiss. You clean, and bathe, and repeat the same instructions over and over again until you finally fall into the couch with a glass of wine. You turn on the TV, barely keeping your eyes open as sleep creeps into your vision. You look at your husband, the tired wrinkles around his face. You remember how the two of you would stay up talking, sipping beers, laughing until the sun rose. You remember the way he used to touch your cheek, how your heart fluttered when he said your name. You long for those easy days, the ones where love didn’t feel like a chore. One day, you think, one day.
Sometimes you’re fifty-five, watching your son’s baseball game. You swell with pride but when he asks to go out with friends after the game, you furrow your eyebrows. You see him standing there, a mirror of you and your stubborn face. You want to reach out and hug him, pull him close to your chest, wipe that obstinate smirk off his face. You want to brush his unruly hair, make a peaceful compromise, but you’re just too tired. The words fall out of your mouth in anger. He storms away and you’re left with your heart in your hands. Maybe you should fix your relationship before it’s too late. One day, you think, one day.
Sometimes you’re seventy-four, surrounded by people who love you. You’re silent, closing your eyes to the steady stream of their voices, trying to guess who is who. They laugh and call for you to watch them play football, play tag. You nod, but you don’t really listen. There is a creak in your bones, an ache in your hips. You look up at the big sycamore tree, its bark is worn but thick. You wonder what it would feel like to be that grand, that sturdy, that strong. One day, you think, one day.
And before you know it, all these ‘one days’ have passed. All these ‘one days’ where you wished you could be, could feel, could have something different than what’s right in front of you—gone.
Sometimes we spend our lives searching for happiness so much that we forget it’s right in front of us. We’re young, excited to grow old. We’re aging, longing for our youth. We’re single, wishing to be loved. We’re in relationships aching for freedom. We’re hoping for love, but falling into it and letting our connections lose their fire. We’re rushing into families, then complaining about not having enough time for ourselves. We’re pushing people away, yet craving closeness. We’re hurting, doing everything we can to mask our pain instead of experiencing. We’re hoping for something, anything other than what’s right here instead of building what we have into something beautiful. Instead of seeing that it already is.
We’re searching for something that feels unobtainable, and yet, it exists right under our fingertips, all around us, within us.
So much of our lives is dedicated to the pursuit—of happiness, of love, of peace, of more. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a better life or improving where you are, but at some point we have to take a step back. We have to see what and who we have instead of always looking for something or someone else. We have to take advantage of the opportunities we’ve been given, experience the moments we’re going through—even when they’re imperfect, painful, or not exactly what we think we want.
Sometimes you’ll be in one place, desperate to be somewhere else, but years later, long to be right back where you were. So don’t let your life pass you by, don’t let moments slip away.
Happiness is right here, right now.