Belfast Telegraph

Happiness exists for all of us, waiting to be enjoyed

Nuala McKeever

So is it ok to say you feel happy? Is it ok to feel happy? When there are anxious relations waiting for news of a black box at the bottom of the ocean? When, according to Jim Wells, women prisoners up in Hydebank might be making themselves look "like Twiggy" at the taxpayers' expense and "coming out of prison looking better than when they went in"? When Man Utd can't field a winning team despite all their millions?

Is it ok to mention happy when lots of other people obviously aren't feeling the same way?

I hope so. Because I want to say out loud that I am happy. Or more to the point, to say that I've realised what Happiness is.

It just is.

Like Love and Contentment and Peace and all those other words that start with capital letters.

They exist and there's nothing I or anyone else has to do to create them or bring them into existence. They are all around us for the enjoying.

So I sit looking out the back door here in Australia, at the blue swimming pool and the palm trees swaying in the warm breeze and the sound of wind chimes playing elegant tunes in the air. Bare feet on the wooden boards, coffee and salad in my tum, thoughts of far-off riots in Carrickfergus and deputy ministers meeting queens, flitting around the edges of awareness.

To be so far from the familiar is to be launched into the ether and come face to face with the big stuff. Where is home? What is it to be with a person, living or dead? What matters in your life? Would you know joy if you were served it up on a plate?

And some replies. Home is here, with yourself, always was, always will be. To be with a person is to be open to feeling the big capital lettered words Love and Peace and Contentment just right here and now, whether he is somewhere you can never see him or she is beside you on the settee or on the other end of a Skype call.

What matters is getting in touch with the big, unchanging you that is always there underneath the changeable details of country and time zone and gossip and being alive or dead.

I choose not to call this God. I know some people do.

Whatever the word or image you put on to It, It (It deserves a capital letter all of its own) is here in the land of the larriken, bonzer, bewdy and 'She'll be right, mate'. It is the same It in the land of the chancer, 'Stickin' out', 'Dead on' and 'That'll do rightly, mate'.

It's there and here under every victory pie to celebrate a seven-hour climb up and down a mountain and every tear as you hit the top and realise he's never coming back. It's here and there under every "Cheers!" and every discreetly handed over tissue. It's here and there under every hello and every goodbye.

The world is vast and small all at the same time. The sand here is the same as the sand there (except that here it squeaks when you walk on it) and the joys and conflicts of human beings here are just like those at home when you get below the tans and the funny accents.

We all have the potential to be majestic, like the tall, blue gum trees, with our feet in the earth and our arms raised in the breeze. Not drowning, but waving.

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