Some say that a great deal of vacation happiness includes the anticipation of taking a vacation. You plan, you dream, you let out a little pre-sigh. A study was actually done in the Netherlands on the link between pre-vacation plans and happiness, http://tinyurl.com/gvab559.
Lottery tickets function much the same way. When I buy a lottery ticket I make imaginary plans. I can assure you, the little daydreams I buy with that dollar certainly bring more happiness than the disappointment I receive when I don’t win.
I talked to Dad this week. He was on the 14th floor of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, chairs pointed toward the fountain below, the majestic sound of Copeland’s Appalachian Spring blaring from the televised webcam. He assured me that actually being on vacation is undeniably more fun than planning a trip.
Maybe I’ll plan a vacation.
When I saw the first daffodils in my yard I realized I’ve been shuffling past those things that normally bring me joy. For the first few months after Dave died, my brain was covered in that protective fog that blurs the sharp lines of reality.
It was not my intention, but life became incredibly busy — stories to write, a funeral to plan, house guests, a pre-planned family vacation, responsibilities as a maid of honor …
Next I received an unexpected gift. I planned and served as tour guide for two weekend getaways with 39 Korean college students. (This, by the way, was joy-filled. They also liked my rubber chicken).
One day I was waiting on a bench at the Vacaville Outlet malls. The Korean students passed by intermittently, each time with bigger smiles and more shopping bags dangling from their arms.
I had 30 minutes before the coach bus arrived to take us back to Chico.
For just a few minutes I had nothing to think about, nothing to plan, no one to entertain. As if landing from some distant place, the tears arrived.
I wasn’t thinking about the Handsome Woodsman. I wasn’t thinking about anything at all. It was as if I simply exhaled and my body realized there was a lull. Now was a chance for few tears to escape.
SOME THINGS OVERLOOKED
Spring does something to animals, and our natural world — an awakening. For some of us, it brings metacognition.
Last year at this time I would have noticed my daffodil buds were ready to pop. I would have taken photos of the “almost blooms.” The next day I would have checked again, so I would not miss the first hint of yellow. This year I was just too busy to notice.
In winter, I ritualistically visit the Llano Seco Wildlife Refuge. There’s a strange quiet that occurs when tens of thousands of winter waterfowl become one dull roar.
Last week I drove down 7-Mile Lane and it was too late. The birds had already said their good-byes.
Yet, like most things good, good things find us.
When the kitchen scraps were overdue to be dumped on the compost pile, I noticed the first few daffodils bobbing in plain view.
This prompted a closer look at the Virginia creeper vines, also ready to do their dance in the light.
With nothing better to do that day, I ate spinach and kale from the raised bed — dirt and all — and moved a pot of hyacinth bulbs to the walkway.
Spring does not officially arrive until March 20, but spring can easily be placed in the same category as vacations. If we miss out on the anticipation, we miss out on some of that happiness.