The other day, as I took out the rubbish, lifted the lid of the wheelie bin to be met with the unpleasant stench of waste that was fermenting in the heat of Melbourne’s late summer, it occurred to me that it was an unlikely circumstance in which to have the revelation that I was happy. I say revelation because it came to me like that: I’m happy. Garbage isn’t usually conducive to feeling good about things. In fact it’s often the opposite, reminding me of everything that's not working, and rotten in my world and the world at large. But, no. On this evening, I had completed my post-dinner chores and was thinking about all the things that were right in my life.
I'm blessed with a loving partner, great kids, a gorgeous grandchild, still have my lovely elderly dad close by and my brain and body are still working. Sort of. On the other side of the ledger there are a number of things that aren’t so good in my world, but I figure focusing on them just makes them appear bigger. Don’t get me wrong, I'm no ostrich with my head in the sand. As someone once told me “You like to meet reality head on!”. I'm a great believer in taking responsibility for yourself, getting into therapy if needed, making changes where necessary even though it’s painful. I'm not always good at it, but I've learned not to be afraid of it. I can’t change the things in my life that are outside my power, but I should work on discerning what is and isn’t within my ambit and dealing with it.
So what made me smell the roses instead of the garbage? I'm not entirely sure. Perhaps in in part it’s what ‘Twelve Step’ programs refer to as the ‘cultivating the attitude of gratitude’. I've reached an age where I still want to keep learning and improving, but I also have a better sense of what I've already achieved, even if those achievements are modest. No matter what problems I have, I wouldn’t swap my life with anyone. I'm contented, I'm grateful, and therefore I'm happy. I'm starting to appreciate that big revelations often come in the most mundane and unexpected circumstances: doing the washing, at a funeral and yes, even within whiff of the wheelie bin.