Happiness is a pretty girl

IF YOU ASKED ME, a male bystander looking at life, I would say happiness is a pretty girl. A complete stranger approaches you, your eyes meet and she breaks into a spontaneous, dazzling smile.

Such encounters are infrequent but they did happen to me, and for days I secretly carried the cheer of the image until it faded from memory.

Life has many similar happinesses, a suspended moment when your body, mind and soul become infused with joy.

Happiness is a positive cash flow that purchases for you the glitter and smile of the world, the comfort of warm bodies and quiet indulgence for the mind. But to bring happiness money must flow freely and without pause. Its no use if the money is tied up in a never-ending house mortgage or a provident fund that you can only touch in infirmed old age. As my father used to remark, without cash, everything else is hypothetical.

Happiness is to be wakened in the early morning by the sound of light rain outside the window, and to sink back into the cool pillow because you realised it is your off day from work and you can be comatose as late as you want.

Happiness is a watermelon slice, crimsoned, chilled and crunchy. And when you sink your molars into the succulent sweetness, you close your eyes and sigh: This indeed is paradie!

Happiness is to meet again the same pretty girl who gave you the dazzling smile, and knowing in your heart a portion of your hoard of years is being taken away by the gods in exchange for this chance unmitigated delight.

Happiness is a marmalade moon awaiting at the bus stand when you alight, after a long day at work.

Happiness is a sentimental song you sing loud and with abandon, while walking home from the bus stand, knowing there’s only the marmalade moon for company.

Happiness is a Chinese chess game you watch between two evenly-matched old men sitting in a leafy outdoor park, and knowing the player you’re mentally siding with is making the winning moves.

Happiness is reading a book with ideas, thoughts and observations so well said you wished you’ve said them yourself. Happiness is reading Lin Yutang’s well-said books.

Happiness is water so calm and clear you see the blue shadow of your boat on the rainbow coral bed beneath.

Happiness is a barbeque-scented sunset.

Happiness is a DVD-quality sunrise, a ribbon at a time, remembering how Emily Dickson describes it.

Happiness is a pretty girl holding and squeezing your hand and gazing at you in comfort and love.

Happiness was Grandma holding my little hand and I gazing at her face in contentment and love, memories ago.

Happiness is to see Grandma's face again, even if it’s only in a brief dream.

Happiness is watching obnoxious characters in a soap opera finally getting their comeuppance.

Happiness is golden durian meat, sweet as sin, eaten with congenial companions behind a roadside stall at dusk.

Happiness is an inside job.

Happiness floods inside you when you have paid all taxes and credit card debts and obligations and promises, and you know that from now on, your bank account is going to be positive.

Happiness is eating sweet durian again, with the same congenial company.

Happiness is running towards the sun at the waters edge, and feeling your body so fit you can run forever and a breath. Happiness is chasing twilight down a winding river.

Happiness is crafting expressive Johnsonian-style prose, neither contrived, stolen nor cant. Happiness is reading and savouring again Dr Samuel Johnson’s wit and aphorism.

Happiness explodes in your mind when an intricate poem suddenly surrenders its fugitive insights after you have interrogated it for days. 

Happiness is sitting quietly in a Chinese New Year Eve gathering of family members and absorbing their familiar, reunion buzz and banter.

Happiness is an evenings sitting meditation with like-minded companions before the image of the blessed Lord Buddha.

Happiness is living.

Someone, not me, says: “Happiness is like peeing in your pants. Everyone can see it, but only you can feel its warmth.” – from a now defunct Web site

Photo: Miss Singapore 2009 Rachel Kum, by Francis Chin

Read more: Lack of money the root of misery  |  Finding a scapegoat 
Truly happy life  |  Sentimental over Pretty Girls  |  Contents

Miss Singapore Universe 2009, Rachel Kum, photo by Francis Chin