1.14.2012

The Impermanence of Particular Happinesses.


This cell phone snap is, I'm pretty sure from our friends' (Jeff & Linda) 40th Birthday Party.  They threw it simultaneously for themselves and there always-hospitable house was filled with the many friends that they've made and sustained.  I happened to capture with this cell phone snap the delightful moment of Christina and Lynn laughing together.   Christina has one of the most infectious laughs you've ever heard, and Lynn only laughs this freely when she's really enjoying herself and feels really at home and comfortable with good friends around.

Jeff and Linda are (of course) the kinds of friends like this -- as are Christina and Scott -- who are leaving.  We still have a lot of laughing to do with them before they go, so this post is not just solemn. And their leaving Ohio is definitely an occasion to both mourn and celebrate.  Christina and Lynn have been finishing their doctoral programs together and spent a great deal of time supporting each other through the gauntlet.  So we're celebrating that not only is Christina finishing up her PhD, but she's also gotten a nice tenure line job.

But we're mourning because we know that Scott and Christina leaving the area will mean a great loss for us.  They are insightful, bright, dedicated, altruistic, talented people -- in a happy partnership with each other -- who have been sharing their lives with us for five years?  Seven years?   Beyond all those talents and qualities they embody?  The reason you decide to really share life with people is because they make you laugh, because they are generous and because you trust them.  Our times with Scott and Christina have been full of laughter, hilarity, honesty and trust.

These happy qualities of friendship don't dissolve with distance, but the experience of them changes significantly.

 We talked about this with some of our long-distance friends over Christmas break. In a strange way it is the very impermanence of particular happinesses that makes them deeper and more felt than other mundane happinesses.

Not that mundane happiness is bad.  The thing about mundane happiness is that it registers low on the pleasure-richter-scale and its almost always braided closely with obligation, labor and complications.

If given the choice, of course, I'd choose to have both.  mundane happiness and Surprising! Whelming! Happiness!

But a photograph like this, and reading it in the light of our friends leaving us, and thinking of the unique happiness of a Birthday Party, a good laugh, and shared times with unique outstanding friends, makes me glad for these Particular Happinesses and a little sad about their Impermanence.

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