Happiness is not about what happens but how I respond to things.
It’s amazing to me the way that even on a day that I lost a cell phone I just bought, got caught in the rain, was really late to meet my sister, and one of the Intercordians got malaria, I still felt such a sense of happiness, gratefulness and groundedness. It really showed me the way that happiness is not so much about what happens as how you respond to those things.
As I waited by the road hoping the taxi I had left my phone in would pass by, a young man stopped and asked me where I was going. I told him that I wasn’t going anywhere and explained what had happened. I couldn’t help but appreciate his “oh"s of sympathy and kindness and I listened as they began to spread when he told my story of my lost phone to the women sitting around us. He ran down to the riverbank to borrow a phone to call mine to try to retrieve it. When he returned he called and called but no luck. It started to rain and he brought me under a small rooftop and we waited together to see if the taxi would return on this route. It finally passed and we ran out into the pouring rain asking the passangers to check the car for me. Again, no luck. The phone was gone.
When we walked back, the ladies who had been sitting nearby asked us if we had found it. When we said no I could see and feel that they were genuinely disappointed. I then walked down to the riverbank, phoneless and late, and joined the crowd waiting under the canopy for the rain to subside. One of my former host sisters saw me and when I told her about my lost phone a chorus of deeply sympathetic and disappointed “oh"s came from her and the others sitting around us. While we were waiting for the boat to cross the river she bought bananas and roasted corn to share with me. A gesture I could tell was meant to cheer me up. Maybe small but incredibly meaningful to me.
When we crossed to the island we met our other sister and she used her phone to call and call my number. At this point I had given up on my phone but the way that everyone was caring for me meant much more to me than actually getting the phone back. Each person I had told what happened from my sisters to my taxi driver on my way home to the boy who works in the phone credit shop all really wanted to help me through my situation. They had such genuine sympathy for me and not one of them mentioned the fact that it was really my own fault for leaving the phone in the taxi in the first place. They rather expressed such deep disappointment that a person would see it and take it rather than do the right thing and return it to the driver. The taxi driver I had on the way home said to me that an honest person can feel free by doing the right thing but the person who took my phone would have to live with the heaviness of a guilty conscionce. I am continually struck by peoples’ desire for honesty and for one another to do the right thing. The way that this desire never tires is inspiring to me.
Despite the disappointment of having lost a phone I had just bought a week earlier my day left me feeling good, loved and cared about. I spent the day soaking up the love that I felt from each person who helped me, each familiar face I met at the riverside, crossing on the boat and walking through the island. I felt it in each “oh, sorry. sorry.” I heard (which sound as heartfelt as if they were the ones that had taken my phone), each “auntie Deede” I got from my host sisters’ children, and each hug, smile or wave I shared with the people I hold dear to my heart. It was a day that reminded me that sometimes it’s ok to feel disappointment and share that honestly with others. They will pick you up and care for you and that caring will in turn remind you of the things that are important.