Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?
These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.
Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...
...seems to be working so far
Friday, October 10, 2014
And, It's Free
Now, don't say you are always unhappy, or you are a lifelong pessimist, or you have an enzyme dysfunction that excludes you from being happy ever. I don't buy it, and don't be a dink. Happiness is universal, and it is a choice to either experience it, or not. Oh, you may be bummin' about something that might make it hard to smile at the moment, but that is temporary. The smile will come back, just grab hold when it does. You'll be fine.
If you are breathing be happy. That is a simple thought to start with.
I've had several times in my life where happiness took a leave of absence. You have, too. I have also had far more times where happiness not only found me, but grabbed me, and throttled the bejeepers out of me. It was that good. The sad times were rough, too, but I knew that they were only temporary.
I was not going to live sad. I am not talking about depression. Depression is far beyond being sad. Depression is a clinical condition, sadness is something everyone feels now, and again.
I've lost people close to me, jobs that I loved, all sorts of relationships, pets, my car keys, my train of thought, and money, but nothing did I loose was so severe as to suck the life from me for the rest of my days.
I've also had the attitude that I will maintain happiness, be ready for the next smile moment, and experience it to the fullest. That moment could be the simplest thing. On Monday, my happiness reached a high. My face still hurts from smiling for two hours straight.
Mary and I were both off on Monday. I slept in the morning after my work at the hospital that night, and she ran errands, and did "Mary" things. After noontime we moved somethings into the shed for the off season. It was a beautiful fall day with blue skies, a few white clouds, and seasonal temperatures.
"I want to go for a ride on the motorcycle", she said.
I am a novice rider, and had to gain some experience before taking a passenger with me. After a month, and a half of practice yesterday was the day to grab that next moment.
We ran over to Auburn, bought a helmet for Mary, and drove home. "Hurry!," Mary said as she smacked my arm, "We're burning' daylight!". She was little excited.
On the way home, I gave her the prerequisite safety talk about being a passenger on a motorcycle. I knew she heard me even though her smile was overlapping her ears.
At home we donned our gear, I got on the bike, and Mary sat behind me. She gave my back a squeeze, and I could feel her excitement though her gloves. A deep breath, a prayer, then off we went to Cumberland Farms.
We needed gas.
The air was brisk, and the sun was out. Blue skies with a few white clouds led the way. The afternoon sun played with the foliage along the road. At each stop sign I checked with Mary, and asked how she was doing, and even over the motors rumble, I could hear her smile.
You can actually feel happiness, and I felt not only my own, but hers.
We rode up Route 32 into Hardwick to the covered bridge. This is one of our favorite places, and it was only natural we would come here on our first ride together. Riding the bike through the covered bridge over those thick wooden boards was great. The sound of the motor against the bridges floorboards, and echoing up against the rafters will stay with me for a long time. We dismounted, took a few photos, and headed back down 32 to Route 9 west, and the Quabbin Reservoir.
Route 9 becomes less wide the further west you go, and has more twists, and curves. It is a great road for riding a motorcycle. The scenery is the best, and around each corner I could feel Mary give me a squeeze when she saw a sight that was awesome. I got a lot of hugs that day.
We entered the Quabbin Reservoir, and rode slowly through the forest that reservoir sat inside of. The leaves were near peak in some areas, and in others they hadn't changed at all. In the very best areas, where the late afternoon sun was just hitting, the colors were the most glorious.
We pulled over in a scenic area, and stared off towards the water. It didn't cost us a thing. The happiness we were feeling was free, all it took was for us to find it.
We rode down the rest of the road chose to ride down by the dam, and back out to Route 9.
Coming up onto the Salem Cross Inn in West Brookfield the view was perfect with the sun illuminating the trees around the pasture. The cows looked as if they had been painted onto the scene. All it was missing was a signature in the corner. I'll hold that picture in my mind for a long time.
We took Route 148 south. The Brookfield Common, the Quaboag River, the fields, and woods lined our ride back home. The sun was beginning to fall below the tops of the trees to our right, and the shadows cast into the fields on our left were punctuated by colors of the changing trees. Mary's squeezes were held longer, and tighter. She was pushing the Happy Meter to its limits, and my smile hadn't left my face since we first pulled out of the driveway, and now, as we were pulling back in, it was frozen in place.
There is no secret to happiness. It isn't some mysterious force that only finds it's way to others. It's homemade. Whether you're giving it, or feeling it, happiness doesn't cost a thing. Be proactive, and don't wait for it to find your face, go find some for yourself.