Robert Frost said, “Happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length.” Today’s poem, “Happiness” by Stephen Dunn, echos this sentiment — that happiness, no matter how intense it feels at the moment, is a fleeting state. It’s with us one instant and seems out of reach the next. But maybe, even when it’s out of sight, it’s still there.
A state you must dare not enter
with hopes of staying,
quicksand in the marshes, and all
the roads leading to a castle
that doesn’t exist.
But there it is, as promised,
with its perfect bridge above
and its doors forever open.
Many here in the States experienced the impermanence of happiness on January 6 when we started the day feeling happy with the results of the Georgia elections that allowed Democrats to gain control of the the Senate. Then, just hours later, we were shocked by the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Thrilled one moment, completely shaken the next. Happiness / a state you must dare not enter / with hopes of staying.
It seems that sadness is also a fleeting state. Fast forward two weeks to January 20 and those same Americans, along with others around the globe, are happy again as Joe Biden becomes the 46th President of the United States. While there is still much unrest, uncertainty, and incredible loss at this time, with a new president and a vaccine for the pandemic, I am hopeful. And yes, for this moment, I am happy.
How are you feeling today?
What’s making you happy these days?
“Happiness” by Stephen Dunn from New and Selected Poems 1974-1994. Copyrighted material used for educational purposes.
Photo: Ryan, Sonie, and Eric. Match Day 2019. Credit: Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.