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September 1, 2023

Micromoments of happiness

Nature amazes me, with the brightness of the sun, the sweet feeling of a warm breeze, the songs of birds and the aroma of raspberries. My mind drifts back in time and I find myself near the stream on Grandpa Frédéric’s land. I can see his wrinkled fingers teaching me how to put a worm on a hook; the pink flesh of the small trout in the pan; the capelins flopping on the beach by the thousands in the spring; the big cod, caught by the belly and so incredibly delicious. I remember it like it was just yesterday. The fish was boiled with bacon bits, cooked to a crisp in the pan, transformed into fritters with potatoes or salt-dried and eaten with the fingers. We lived off the sea. To this day, four or five of my weekly dinners consist of its delicacies.

I used to follow Grandpa in the winter too. I would make my way behind him in the snow, my small boots trying to step into his big footprints. My eyes swept the path ahead and saw the white hare before he did. I laughed and cried in front of the small trapped animal. Grandfather quickly put it in his bag. I knew it was going to end up in late grandmother’s famous recipe. At the table, I told him it was good as a few tears slipped down my cheeks and into the sauce.

What a delight it was to finally turn six! I loved school. I was learning how to read and write words, and my heart felt lighter. I composed short poems and I quickly learned to express myself through writing, a habit that persists today. Putting one word after the other, I climbed the ladder of time, always on the lookout for sparks of happiness.

One afternoon spent hunting four-leaf clovers, another lavishing my proud lupines with attention. I found myself embellishing my flowerbeds and my heart at the same time. The irresistible scent of ripe fruit swept over me. I picked wild strawberries in the wooded area on my lot. I destemmed them one by one before placing them in my basket like Mom taught me.

My native Gaspésie is always in the back of my mind like an old classic movie; a chronological repertoire of the best moments. Everything is there in my memory, moving like the undulations of the river.

I remember how brave we were when we used to climb onto the enormous ice blocks floating on the river in Sainte-Flavie. Mother forbade it, of course, and yet my brother still insisted we do it. He wanted to plant his flag, but the hard ice never yielded.

Let’s think about it. Let’s look for shortcuts to these micromoments of happiness. Let’s grab the tiny stars fluttering above our heads. Happiness is celestial food that prolongs our life span, I am sure of it.

I’m a youthful 20-year-old when I talk to a century-old tree; when I slowly devour a poem, line by line; when an old friend tells me about his most recent flirtation or when my granddaughter invites me to the restaurant for dinner.

Let’s learn about life’s magic – all these moments that appear unreal but are just as true as good news that arrives unannounced.

I often get the feeling that the older I get and appreciate things, the more easily I marvel at what surrounds me. Every microsensation of happiness thrills me: breathing in the fresh morning air, napping on the couch in the middle of the afternoon, washing my hair with rainwater, soothing an itch with the help of five metal fingers on the end of a stick, drinking my coffee piping hot, succeeding in eating more fruit than bread, taking selfies for my Sunday letters, writing even when I’m asleep.

I’m not kidding! It happens that a stroke of genius wakes me in the middle of the night and I grab my notepad. I enjoy being at writing’s service, being its researcher, prospector, storyteller and the one who strings its words together using a keyboard.

For the longest time I thought I would TAKE CARE OF MYSELF LATER. But you know what? My LATER arrived A LONG TIME AGO!

Come to think of it, deciding to take care of ourselves later is presumptuous. How do we know what will be in our control a day, a week or a year from now? The power we feel is an illusion. On the other hand, our power to live in the present is very real; just like our right to choose happiness.

Don’t put off these micromoments of happiness until tomorrow, these sparks of joy that surround us and are within our grasp.

Think about it. Life is so short and rarely do we allow ourselves to feel the wonder in front of us.