Tag Archives: Cuba

Happiness

I started this post as an extended review of a book called The Happiness Project, that got my wheels turning over the active and determined pursuit of happiness.  Turned out that it was a much bigger topic and focus of my life than just one little essay.

Reading the book made me realize how happy I am right now, in my life exactly the way it is. I’m well aware that many other people would not at all be happy with this, perhaps would not even be able to endure it.  I’m often perched on the edge of broke, when I work for money it’s at a job I don’t love, I’m living in my very unfinished converted barn without running water, windows or constant heat.  But in downward comparison, I have more than some of the wealthiest Cubans have.  Cuba is much better off than a lot of Africa.  Relative poverty in Canada is still unattainable riches to the  third world, and the great thing (that I’m quite grateful for), is that I rarely forget it.  I feel rich, almost all the time.  I have an abundance of time, good credit, my health, the unflickering love of friends, wood to burn and a stove to start fires in, beautiful wheels, plenty of food, clean air and water. I live in one of the most beautiful chunks of the most beautiful countries, and I really love the things I do for free.

The few aspects of my life that aren’t ideal don’t bother me that they’re not ideal, and I think that that is the real definition of happiness.  The non-ideal elements don’t throw you off the balance.  One is never going to get every aspect of your life into total alignment with your ideal vision, certainly not living as small pieces of a greater whole that is collectively terribly out of ecological harmony.  At the very least, putting off happiness until arriving at some ideal is an unreasonable expectation.

I also realize I’ve done a huge amount of work to become what I think is pretty damn happy.  I am deeply proud of being in this place, now, with a quick backward glance at struggle that at times, I barely survived.  It is not an exaggeration to say I am lucky to be alive, several times over.  But beyond luck and endurance, I am here and happy, and that is my own doing.  It does take work, and deliberate attention, and that is the gold of this book.
Oh, there’s lots more

Next up: Icelandic!

I’ve been making an effort to learn Spanish and Latin American Spanish with a CD course and a small pile of textbooks and dictionaries.   I listen to it in my truck whenever I drive, when I can talk out loud unselfconsciously.   I’m determined to be passable in Spanish before I go back to Cuba.

I would have never guessed I’d dive into it with such a hunger.  I’ve always frowned and humphed anyone who’s suggested I’d probably enjoy languages, but (one of the best signs of total absorption) I get trapped in concentration so complete that I don’t notice the passage of time. Continue reading Next up: Icelandic!

Readied for Cuba

What a rare and precious day- to be finished all my have-to-dos by the still sunlit hour of five pm!  I’m just after commenting on how on my very best productive days at full output without hitches, the best I can ever do is to get everything on the list done.  There’s rarely anything left over for spontaneity.  And today, there is!  A whole evening for writing in front of the fire and sewing with new fabric.

The best part is feeling prepared and caught up.   I’m ready to go to Cuba now.

I woke up early, with barely enough light to read by, squinted at my book for a little while in bed, got up and built a fire, cut some firewood, built the structure for my lovely green countertop and stocked it, cut some more firewood, cleaned up a bunch of the old barn, dyed my hair, cleaned and organized the new barn, made some calls and sifted through a couple boxes of row and the year’s paperwork.  I even ate properly.

Sifting through the stacks of random papers that accretes in little heaps is an annual event for me.  So I relate to my tax clients that sort out the box of receipts just before they visit me.  The odd ones that have monthly balance sheets seem a bit alien to me.  Who has time to stop everything once a month to do a balance sheet?  That’s just impractical.