Webster devotes half a page to simply defining the word happy, but where is it? Is it memory, or a place, or both? We all have a memory of something wonderfully rich and satisfiying. A sight or a place where you caught your breath in amazement, or comfortably settled in and stored it away in your memory bank to draw on when your funds run short. I heard a young mother tell her overwrought child to “go to your happy place”, and thought that we all have a place in memory where we were extremely happy and content.
My “happy place” belongs to my dear friends Georgia and Emmett Oliver. Their elegantly rustic home sits upon a rocky promontory jutting into the Hood Canal in Washington state near the post office “town” of Lilliwaup, on Highway One. It touches the Olympic rain forest on one side, and is lapped by the tidal waters of the mile wide, deep water channel which is the Hood Canal on the other. The Oliver family generously shared this beautiful spot with us for many years, and it remains my “happy place”.
In memory I lie on the large rocks which form the shoreline, feeling the cold salt water touch my sunburned legs, and I listen to the sound of the gulls fighting over an occasional fish. My snorkel and fins are close by whenever I choose to dive under and reach for a sea anemone or small fish. An occasional small sailboat can slowly slip around the point, and since it is a deepwater channel, now and then a very large ship or tugboat will chug into “view”. Sometimes (in my mind) my friend calls down to me from her comfortable perch on the deck above to see if I am still alive, but mostly I just vegetate alone.
It is a fine place to go during a root canal, or any uncomfortable spot my body tries to take me! I “visited” it a lot during the first part of this year while having a series of acupuncture, and most recently during an early morning MRI. So “where is happy” is obviously grounded in each of our memories. Perhaps instead of a place, it is a spot in Nature, or a beautiful painting or piece of music. It is unique for each of us. The important thing is to be able to withdraw it whenever we choose, and somehow replicate the feelings that memory invokes.