Monday, November 27, 2023

The Key to Happiness

I couldn’t help thinking that despite cancer, I truly have everything. But the brunette who vented at the table across from mine felt far differently. "I'm just soooo miserable," she said to the woman with her.

I didn't mean to eavesdrop, but Sky had gone to the bathroom, and I couldn't stop myself from listening. "We don't have ANYTHING.” The brunette pouted. Her beautiful sweater glistened under the restaurant's lights.

I shoved some fettuccini into my mouth and chewed. Maybe this would keep me on track. It’s not nice to eavesdrop.

"If he worked harder, we'd have a bigger house." 

"I know, honey. He promised you so much," the gray-haired woman responded.

"Check!" I waved down the waitress.

Later that day, Trey and Indy asked if we could visit the music store. I agreed, thinking maybe it would banish the brunette’s words from my thoughts. Maybe there was more to her than what met the eye? But she’d complained about everything: the food, her friends, that her husband didn’t make more than 100-grand a year…

I couldn’t stop thinking about it or why it flummoxed me. That’s when my nausea peaked and the fettuccine almost made a comeback. See! That’s what eavesdroppin’ will do to ya! 

“I'm gonna step outside,” I told Trey and Indy.

So, I stood on the curb, hoping the cold air would cure me. Then I noticed something; a few feet away, three rough-looking men stood talking. "God is so good," the tallest man said. He wore a hat, a scarf, fingerless gloves, and a massive beard. "Being homeless was the worst experience of my life, but now I see that it’s happened for a reason."

I took in a big breath, grateful that the sickness had momentarily passed. Then I dug through my pockets and found a $5 bill. "Um..." I walked up to the men. "Maybe you can use this?"

The tallest man nodded, and I couldn't help smiling. His skin crinkled with age, but his eyes shone, and I bet his grin could've lit a thousand fireplaces. 

“How's your day been?” I asked, leaving my previous worries behind. Who can worry about nausea when they're talking to a Jack Sparrow lookalike?!

"It's cold," he said, "but God's in it. And He makes it beautiful." He seemed so happy, not just feigning contentment but genuinely grateful. 

"You have a wonderful day, Miss," his first mate said, little clouds billowing from his mouth as he spoke into the freezing air.

When the kids and I got home, I had to mull over the day. What was the difference between the disconsolate brunette and the joyful pirate? How could someone with nothing be happier than someone who had everything? 

I decided the difference is gratitude.


I hope you'll remember this as you enjoy your family and friends over the holidays. Whether you're experiencing grief, loss, sickness, financial trials, or any other hardships, I think it's important to realize that true joy comes from gratitude.

Today I might be sick and life might be a bit scary because I know how I'll die (I just don't know when). Despite that, I'm grateful to spend any second that I can with my family. Looking back at my life, and after thinking about the brunette and her plight, I'd much rather be like the homeless man.

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