I must have been a Freshmen in High School because my sister was off to College and I was doing my soccer laundry. As I’m walking down the hallway toward the washer and dryer it becomes more and more clear that my mom is really upset as she sits folding some clothes in front of the dryer. As I start to empty my sweaty Michigan bag of soccer attire into the washing machine, it took very little coercing to get my mom to start explaining where the anguish was coming from.
“Oh, your sister is just having a really hard time getting settled at college is all.” she tried to say as if this concern wasn’t bringing her to tears.
Once I started my wash, I started rubbing her shoulders as we had a few more back and fourths about what was so upsetting. I’d be lying if I tried to recreate what those sentences actually were.
But what I do remember very well is how that conversation ended.
As I am now standing a few feet from her showing signs of heading out of the room as the conversation had kind of fizzled to a sorrow, suddenly she flared up with a new burst of intensity and tone.
“I just want you guys to be happy.” she spoke loudly through tears while looking away from me. “Don’t always worry about getting perfect grades. It’s not the end of the world if you get in a little bit of trouble. All we want is for you guys to be happy.”
I don’t even know if I responded in the moment, as I just soaked in the emotion. But I probably thought about that on and off for a good portion of the rest of the night. And I’m not sure when, but at some point over the next decade, this story and those words took hold more and more.
There’s a lot of ways that idea, “happiness is the goal”, has likely shaped my decision making over my lifetime now. It simplifies things to a very reasonable, working level. It’s a good idea to keep in mind, if you can be honest with yourself about what you REALLY need to achieve happiness.
When I reminded my mother of this story some time in the last 5 years, she had no recollection of that day. Isn’t that funny? You never know when a moment of pain or emotion of any kind, could lead to an outburst that effects someone else to their core.
is a thirty-something guy who hasn't been able to look away from politics since 2008. Around the time he got tired of staring at religion.