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Happiness

Jane Kenyon wrote this thoughtful poem about happiness. It is the flip side of a country song that suggests we look for love in all the wrong places. Happiness is right there in front of us. We see it and struggle to recognize it. Perhaps, it is just too obvious for us to see it and grasp it. There is just no accounting for happiness, because it just shows up and finds us.

There’s just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.

And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.

No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.

It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basket maker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.
It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.

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About ivonprefontaine

I completed a PhD at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. Previously, I taught for 20 years and spent the last 14 years teaching in an incrediable hybrid school setting. My dissertation topic and research were how teachers experience becoming who teachers, as human subjects. For me, teaching is a calling and vocation that allows me to express who I am as a person. Currently, I am waiting and listening to what will call me. We have begun a small consulting and leadership firm called Rocky River Leadership & Consulting Ltd.

4 responses »

  1. I might suggest happiness is inside us.

    Reply
  2. greetings my friend. i wanted to properly thank you for allowing my words to grace your pages, ‘clouds are free’ because of so much love from your friends is firmly ensconced atop my readers’ favorite list, not likely to be supplanted anytime soon with as many likes as it has.

    what a gift you have given this healing heart, thank you again.

    Reply

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