It’s sweltering in Dubai now. Escaping the heat, my daughter, who’s home from university, decided to dig out a box of old home movies, which we’ve been watching lately with cups of tea, biscuits and rolled down blinds.
With three daughters, there seems to be an endless stream of birthday parties. I catch flickering images of myself offering an assortment of Barney cakes, princess cakes, cakes with numbers on them, organising musical chairs, standing guard at the bouncy castle, or pushing someone, now fully grown, on a swing.
The hairstyles, dresses, living rooms change but my face is always beaming. I look so happy, carefree and wrinkle free! Our family still intact, what did I know about life!
When we look back on things the way they were before, we inevitably measure the experience up against where we are now, and somehow draw the conclusion we were happier then. Can we only be happy in retrospect, looking back on events?
We might ask ourselves, “when is happiness really going to catch on for me, or” I had happiness before, even though I didn’t see it at the time.”
Does that indicate that we cannot be happy now, only realise it later that we should have been? Or does it mean that we have evolved and raised the bar of our own internal happiness barometer for where we are in this moment?
Does it take more now, or perhaps less?
We might argue we are just being sentimental looking back, in fact, if we look more closely, we recall there was a truckload of issues, waiting, disguised as high drama, parked just off the camera lens.
Mindfulness teaches us that happiness is an inside job.
Over time, we will indeed experience a feeling of happiness, sense a deeper level of contentment arise from deep within, as we become more mindful and expand our awareness of the present moment, and ourselves in it, through our daily practices.
More so when we decide to call a truce with the thinking mind.
Nevertheless, we cannot help but be mesmerised by looking at old photographs or footage of ourselves, as younger carefree beings.
They remind us of something precious, hidden, glorious even.
Hopeful and playful, innocent and free. Is that who we truly are?