Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.
– Albert Einstein
I like Einstein quotes and I love the one above! To me it highlights the fact that life experience can be a very subjective thing. This in turn reminds me that the word ‘happiness’ could mean so many different things to different people – and at different stages of their lives. Therefore, rather than attempting to define happiness, I will share what meaning the word holds for me, at this stage in my life.
In the previous post, I shared the fact that I used to feel sadness and anger a lot of the time. I also mentioned that I used to complain quite frequently. So for me, happiness has come to mean an absence (or at least a lessening) of these things. As a result, I would describe happiness as feeling peaceful on the inside and having the sense that all is well. I should probably mention the fact that I am aware, that for some, it gets even better – much better. I have heard and read that some people feel an immense sense of joy and bliss a lot of the time. I hope to get there one day, but I am thrilled to be where I am now.
Now that I’ve shared my thoughts on the word itself, I’d like to take you on a journey…
Inside the Head of a Happy Man
I took the above picture some months ago (perhaps in the middle of November), while I was walking around a nearby town with my wife and daughter. The girls wanted to go into a shop. I wasn’t keen on following them and having spotted the man with the pigeons, I decided to head over and investigate. I was drawn to him because I could see that he was feeding the pigeons while doing his job, which was to hold up the board advertising a pizza parlour. I thought to myself, ‘now that’s not something you see every day’. So I decided to try and get his picture and share it on Instagram.
When I approached him, the man was very friendly and he even offered more food to the pigeons (so they would perch on his arms). We couldn’t speak for long, because I soon spotted my wife and daughter coming out of the shop and went over to join them. Several hours later, when the sun had gone down and it was getting quite cold, we happened to be walking in the direction of the place where I’d seen the man with the pigeons. I found myself wondering if he would still be there. Sure enough, he was still there; still holding the board (but I don’t recall seeing any pigeons then). I walked over to him with my 2 girls because I wanted them to meet him and I also wanted to thank him properly for letting me take his picture. Pretty soon, we got talking and he started to tell us a little about himself and his life.
Rather than tell you word for word what happened and what we spoke about, I will briefly describe some of the things I heard and observed during my time with him:
- He seemed to be around 60 years of age.
- His work seemed hard to me – standing outdoors for hours on end with the board, in the cold and rainy weather, but he didn’t mention any of this at all.
- He said he fed the pigeons because they needed love (he went on to say that everybody needed to be loved).
- He told us how much money he made every day (and it wasn’t much in my estimation) and he only brought it up when telling us how much it cost him daily to feed the pigeons and how ‘God provides’ everything he needed.
- He said he loved to be photographed or filmed.
- He was friendly and upbeat and spent most of the time talking to us about his love of pigeons and about his family back in his country of origin.
- He told us several times that he was blessed with many daughters and spoke in glowing terms about them. He also talked about how they would ring him up daily (from overseas) and how they always asked him to return home soon.
- He told me that I was lucky to have a daughter (and again mentioned that they were a blessing in life).
- At one point, he reached into a bag and produced a can of diet-coke, which he kindly offered to Dakota (I thanked him and politely declined).
- Not once did he ask us for anything.
- We happened to be outside 2 of the large coffee chains and so I repeatedly offered to get him a hot drink, but he politely refused every time.
- When I saw him earlier, he was surrounded by pigeons and a few were feeding from his hand. I noticed an elderly lady walking by with a young child. The child seemed fascinated but the lady’s facial expression and manner made it clear that she didn’t approve of what the man was doing. He noticed this and his reaction was to smile at her – I’m not beating up on her or anything here. I know not everyone loves pigeons. I also know that many people consider them pests and that some even have phobias relating to them. I simply want to highlight his approach to disapproval and perhaps aggression from others.
- Not once did he complain about anything or anyone.
I’m not sure what others would make of this man, but to me, he was a happy man!
He certainly meets all of my ‘criteria’. He seemed to be at peace with himself and with his life. He wasn’t complaining about anyone or anything. Although his love for his family meant that he probably looked forward to being reunited with them, he still seemed content to be where he was. I didn’t think he had much in the way of material wealth. Yet, he felt he had enough so as to be able to feed pigeons daily and to even offer my daughter something to drink. He had enough good feelings inside his ‘tank’ so as to not be easily upset or angered by the behaviour or others.
No, he definitely seemed a happy man. In fact, he actually came out and said so (quite a few times). And I had no trouble believing him.
And here’s something for the Einsteins amongst you: Maybe his love for the pigeons (and his positive thoughts) meant that when he was surrounded by them, he didn’t notice the time pass or what the weather was like.
I think this post is done.