Happiness is a picnic in the park with family
COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, July 3, 2002
IN LAST WEEK'S column on happiness, Mike Veloski shared with us the
image of a hummingbird gleefully sliding down a banana-leaf "water slide"
during a tropical downpour.
Coffee companion Julie Kohler of Calgary, responding to the infectious
quality of such happiness, wrote: "The image of the hummingbird sliding
down the leaf leaves me smiling!" And Debbie Faulkner, also of Calgary,
added: The story "makes me want to rig up a mini waterslide on my balcony
to attract hummingbirds; forget the feeders."
From the West Coast came this note from an obviously homesick former
RE THE HUMMINGBIRD: I used to watch a flock of ducks that lived on
the pond on the north side of Griffin Rd. in Cochrane near where it
meets Highway 22. They would fly over to the river and ride it down
to just level with where I lived on Riverview Dr. Then they would take
off up to the Highway 22 bridge and do it all again. This would go on
for about 6-8 trips!
Derek Dunwoody, Victoria
ON THE HUMAN side of happiness, I received this e-mail from cross-cultural
communicator Jack Popjes:
YOUR LATEST COLUMN on happiness strikes a note. The Ramkokamekra-Canela
people of Brazil, among whom my family and I were privileged to live
for 22 years, have a word for happiness, amjikin, which means, literally
"to like oneself." Thus, wa amjikin means "I like myself," or "I am
happy." This points to the human need for having a healthy self-esteem,
a concept so popular in psychological therapy.
Yet, although I do not suffer from problems with low self-esteem,
and basically "like myself," as the Canelas would say, I feel the happiest
when I am standing at the foot of a great rugged mountain, or when I
am floating in a canoe on a still lake at sunrise, or when I watch massive
breakers rolling in on a wild stormy seashore, or when watching the
stars in a clear dry season night sky 500 miles from the nearest electric
It is then that I am truly happy, probably because my self-esteem
is utterly overwhelmed with the wonder of the handiwork of my Maker.
I doubt I am alone in feeling this way.
Jack Popjes, the Caribbean
SOME YEARS AGO, Bev Pamenter and his wife Diane lived in Mexico where
they had a chance to observe the spontaneity of happiness among the poor.
DIANE AND I enjoyed our Sunday afternoon walks through Chapultapec
Park in central Mexico City. It was just a happy place to be. The wonderful
vegetation, the castle on the hill, the swans on the lake, and the warm
sunshine, were, of course, part of the grand experience.
But the happiness that especially caught our attention welled up from
the families of ordinary people who flooded that park families
living in poverty who simply enjoyed being together.
So many times we watched a large family, fresh from church and led
by the children, encircle for themselves some private fun space for
the day by stretching a string of balloons from tree to tree.
In no time at all, the younger ones were playing tag or kicking old
soccer balls around, while the older ones walked about, sat chatting
on the grass, prepared food and refreshments, played a game or two of
chess, or cheered on the kids.
And when nighttime approached, they reluctantly took down their balloons
and headed home, still happy.
What I believe we saw in the midst of their poverty was a deep inner
joy that, in spite of life's difficult circumstances, expressed itself
visibly in the happiness of knowing that they loved and were loved within
their little world.
Bev Pamenter, Cochrane
MANY OF THE happiest people I personally know locally are members of
Rotary. Rotary's motto for the coming year is "Sow the Seeds of Love."
One way I believe all of us can do just that is by sowing the seeds of
© 2002 Warren Harbeck
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