Sculptures offer happy respite from mundanePublished 10:44pm Wednesday, September 12, 2012
To the editor:
I am a pretty happy person, I think. Not one of those happy-go-lucky Pollyanna souls who ignores the walls collapsing around her or sticks her head in the sand of ignorance.
No, I do my best to fill my life with interesting and worthwhile activities that add meaning to my life and might even contribute to someone else’s happiness.
Recently I began reading “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. Although I’ve only started the book, I understand her basic premise: like Ms. Rubin, I’m not unhappy, but there are many times in my life when I feel I could be happier and more appreciative.
She spent a year intentionally and deliberately working on different areas of her life that might increase her happiness.
But what does that really have to do with my life, or anyone’s life, in Dowagiac? “Abundant Happiness,” of course. When I saw the Dogwood banner in Farr Park, announcing the imminent arrival of “Abundant Happiness,” my interest was indeed piqued.
Was another well-known author, maybe Gretchen Rubin, coming to town? Was the Dogwood Committee planning some special fall event, maybe a “Happiness Workshop?” Just what was going to bring my city abundant happiness?
I’m anxious to see what abundant happiness looks like.
When added to the others already around our community, I hope that the new sculpture will give me pause to think about my own happiness and the happiness of others.
I feel a sense of freedom and space when I see the cheetahs racing by the railroad tracks. Even though I struggle walking and chewing gum at the same time, I appreciate the grace and joy of the dancers in Farr Park and by City Hall. As I drive into town from the Mill Pond, I feel energy exuding from Active Hybrid by the VFW. I watch the lion by the bandstand as he surveys his realm. The sunflower provides a breath of summer and sunshine even on the dreariest days. The cranes and the eagle transport my soul to refreshing places in the woods.
“Aunt Millie” encourages me to press on despite whatever ails me.
Each of these sculptures is a mini pause to refresh and I am grateful to the individuals and families who have been able to provide them.
So I’m back to “abundant happiness.” Is this sculpture going to lift any of our citizens out of poverty? Is it going to bring new companies or manufacturers to Dowagiac? Is it going to spur economic growth in our community?
Probably none of these things. The Daily News editors are correct; these are two different issues and the people who are working on one of them are not necessarily the people who are working on the other.
I do think, however, that, with the installation of “Abundant Happiness,” the Dogwood committee has a golden opportunity here to begin a community-wide discussion and examination of what brings happiness to our lives and how each of us could be happier, regardless of where were are.
I don’t pretend that life is happy or easy for those individuals and families who are faced with economic difficulties or major health concerns or other chaos.
My family and I have confronted some of those crises.
What I do believe is that we can all find oases of happiness in a variety of places. We can all have our own happiness projects. And then perhaps we can all experience abundant happiness.