That’s happiness.

“How can you be happy now?” the book seems to ask, and it has a point. The catastrophe of climate neglect, the toxic politics, the tangible sense of so many things worsening in your own lifetime, along with a sense of your obscure or outright complicity, all combined to make the idea of any possible happiness seem at best childish, at worse willfully blind…

When I came to write the new novel, I remembered a moment from our early days in Clare. We had left commuter Monday-to-Friday lives in New York to come to a rural farming community, seeking a simpler life that was truer to our natures, not yet knowing what exactly that was…

One of those first welcomers was Michael Dooley, a silver-haired farmer, turf cutter, man of the land of the old kind, who into his 80s, pedaled his big bicycle into the village.

Because Michael seemed to be working on the land all day every day, into the fall of darkness and beyond, and never complained, I once asked him if he ever took a holiday.

“A holiday?” He looked at me like the innocent I was.

“I mean, what do you do to be happy?”

The question was a novelty to him and he considered it from all sides before answering.

“When I want a holiday,” he said at last, “I go over the road as far as the meadow. I go in there, take off my jacket, and lay down on it. I watch the world turning for a bit, with me still in it.”

He smiled then, and held me in his blue Atlantic eyes, full of the ordinary wisdom of a well-lived life, a wisdom that saw the many failings of the world but our still breathing and dreaming in it, and with a conclusive nod that defeated all arguments said, “That’s happiness.”

~ Niall Williams, from “Is Anyone Happy Anymore? We’ve lost our ability to take comfort in small things.” Mr. Williams is the author, most recently, of the novel “This Is Happiness.” (The New York Times, Dec 21, 2019)


Notes:

Comments

  1. this gave me chills. happiness distilled.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is…

    Like

  3. Aaaawh, this would be MY kind of book. A quiet but profound state of happiness…. (meanwhile she booked their 2020 visit of their UK friends already. Also have no field to lie in!!!!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • No field. No Problem.

      ” just stand waiting a long time anywhere on the planet and your mind will not be standing, it’ll be travelling at a speed ten thousand times faster than it can when your body’s moving. It’ll arrive at places hitherto unvisited.

      ~ Niall Williams, “This Is Happiness” (Bloomsbury Publishing; December 3, 2019)

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    ‘The catastrophe of climate neglect, the toxic politics, the tangible sense of so many things worsening in your own lifetime, along with a sense of your obscure or outright complicity, all combined to make the idea of any possible happiness seem at best childish, at worse willfully blind … My happiness is going down to my tropical island, sitting by the shore and … “I watch the world turning for a bit, with me still in it.”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for sharing David…. Niall Williams is new to me 🤓 have a happy day ~ smiles Hedy 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oooh… yet another to add to my “to read” collection. I’m already halfway through “Erosion Essays of Undoing”…
    But this one sounds way more up my alley.
    It’s always the little things…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Beautiful post, David and this is what happiness is all about.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Beautiful writing and words of truth and wisdom. I think people are afraid to be “happy,” which has become a ‘dirty word,’ as if we have no right. But it’s a privilege to live, to feel the sun and breathe the air. To walk and dance and BE. So yeah, I’m happy. And proud of it. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  9. “held me in his blue Atlantic eyes…” would never think of expressing it this way. What a sensation though!

    And you, what do you do to be happy, David?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. When you feel happy you know it. No need to analyze it.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. wonderful; certainly causes one to pause and reflect on the idea of happiness…

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Love this wisdom 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Amazing, I choose to be happy

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Aye. Amen.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. How wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

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