Monday, 8 December 2014

Finding Happiness

Well, I could describe it as having internet again after almost 2 weeks of not, but that would be shallow as would be sitting outside in a warm breeze with a glass of wine at 5:44 on a Monday night because J is at school camp, but let's just say I am profitez-ing (there is no perfect translation but you get the idea).

A few weeks ago, I attended a workshop called 'The Theory of the Compass and Map of Loss", a somewhat esoteric theory applicable to all but from an Aboriginal healing and connection perspective, which embraces the idea of moving through life's challenges to a place of healing and happiness.  It was illuminating as has much of the Aboriginal learning and cultural corridors I have been treading to better understand and perform my job.  I won't try to explain the theory and I'm not even sure I could, however, it, and several experiences in the last several months have put me on a path toward finding happiness and not in the places I necessarily expected.

Ayn Rand used the term 'objectivism', that the proper moral purpose of one's life is the pursuit of one's own happiness (rational self-interest), and that the only social system consistent with this morality is one that displays full respect for individual rights embodied in laissez-faire capitalism.  I don't disagree with this principle, except for the laissez-faire capitalism part, as I believe that capitalism and wealth have a role to play in bettering the community in which we live and thrive.  I have often wrestled with the idea that our moral purpose is to make ourselves happy.  Is it "moral" for a person to accumulate wealth and/or experience and keep it entirely unto them without assisting those in-need, without paying it forward?  Or does happiness grow from community service, from helping those who are vulnerable and legitimately in need?  I lean toward a hand-up not a hand-out approach and, increasingly, the idea that for those who have much, much is expected.  Think Bill and Melinda Gates, or here in Australia, think Andrew Forrest.  Learning about their apolitical, non-dogmatic approaches to community have begun informing my own approaches to life and my community.

The life that C2 and I have built is a many-chaptered story; when some chapters closed, new ones began, and each contributed to our wealth of knowledge and experience.  None of it was forgotten, suppressed or ignored but all of it, the good and the bad, have shaped the people we have become, the choices we have made, and the life we are living.  My work in the not-for-profit world has exposed me to horror, haunting injustice, healing, and hope.  I have found that opening myself to all of it has put me on the path to happiness by bearing witness, by being part of the healing, part of a community dedicated to righting wrongs, and bringing balance to bear by our actions, no matter how small.

My current work with the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities has been such a learning experience, such an education, and I understand only a fraction of their 60,000 year-old story.  But it has resonated profoundly with me, and I now see the world through a different lens.  This new lens is causing me to become more open-eyed, open-minded, and open-hearted.  I have been participating in Aboriginal cultural evenings where we sit around a fire, surrounded by spiritual grass trees and healing smoke, and led by a revered Elder, are taken on a journey, where there is joy and acceptance and balance.

We live in a world where the 6:00 news is endlessly depressing, and it can be overwhelming.   We can't change everything, but in each of our little corners of the world, there is a place where we can make a difference, and I think that is where the beginning of happiness may lie.  I am discovering balance between what I have and what I can do.  I hope C2s and my influence will inspire J to be aware that everything he does in his life matters; that everything he will do, every fork in the road, will impact on someone else.  

I think two qualities need to be nurtured for balance and happiness to be achieved, (1) thirst, a thirst for knowledge, and experience; and (2) curiosity, to be open and respectful of new ideas, new places, and new experiences. 

 I'm working on both.


1 comment:

DL NELSON said...

Thought provoking. How lucky you are and also myself to be able to dip into other cultures to enrich our own lives and hopefully others in the process.