Monday, October 20, 2014

The Happiest Of Happy Days...

IMAGE : MORGUEFILE.COM | The Happiest Of Happy Days

I'm giving a bit of thought to happiness today.

Happiness is pretty damn important isn't it? I reckon it's a bit like oxygen for our soul.  You realise this a) when you are happy and therefore in a blissful state of gratitude for that particular state of mind, and b) when you're not happy and you find yourself out there on a desperate quest, searching for something that will make you feel happy again. As it turns out, life can so often get in the way of happiness and it can be really tough to maintain, especially when you're an adult. Sometimes being an adult really sucks. 

With that in mind, do you remember the happiest day of your life so far? I do. I don't have a wedding day to speak of so that's out and sure, the birth of my kids goes down in history as momentous and brilliant but truthfully, there was a shitload of pain and a whole lot of panicking health professionals present - yes it was happy but it was also BLOODY TERRIFYING. Thankfully there was a great result both times and I was indeed very happy about that, but I'm talking about a memory; a day or a time that is defined solely by true, carefree happiness.

Not surprisingly, my happiest memory comes from my childhood. It's quite random and unremarkable but it conjures up a feeling; a warm glow in the pit of my stomach when I remember it and that warm glow for me, represents something like happiness.  As an adult I have at various times experimented with hypnotherapy on that grown up quest for less stress, and when I have been successfully hypnotised, this is the memory that has always revisited and calmed me in my state of subconsciousness. Therefore, I define it as it my happiest. 

When I was a kid, we spent every weekend and every holiday season at the family beach house. We had loads of friends down there who spent just as much time there as me, and as an only child, that time spent hanging out with my friends was pretty valuable and probably went some way in ensuring I didn't grow up reclusive, spoilt or bratty. In that group of childhood friends there was much Lord Of The Flies business and there was absolutely zero tolerance for bratty behaviour. Our little coastal abode was flanked by many enormous pine trees. Across the road from my house was a vacant block filled with not only giant pines but also native shrubbery and a walking track that allowed us to cut through to the beach. This vacant block was like an extension of our garden - we spent many hours riding bikes there, pretending to be explorers, losing ourselves in imaginative games, and learning to ride horses when we were a little older. One particular weekend after a windy night, we awoke to find one of the enormous hundred year old pine trees had toppled over in that vacant block. The giant structure took up the majority of the block and lay there, mortally wounded, branches outstretched and roots still attached to the tree but stiff and horizontal forming a perfect ladder to the top of the large circle of hard dirt that had once surrounded the base of the trunk.  This unfortunate end to one of Mother Nature's most loyal disciples turned out to be the beginning of the longest and best fort-making, tree climbing day of my life.

From the warm sunny morning, through to the damp crisp evening we played on this old fallen giant. We climbed the protruding root system and sat high on the top of what would have been the base of this old tree. We ran along its vast trunk for what felt like miles, weaving through branches until we reached its tip. We attached ropes to it and abseiled, and we dug trenches underneath it, tunnelling like mini miners burrowing in the dirt to avoid whatever enemy we were had conjured up.  Our trackies and T's (the standard issue holiday house attire of the late 70s) were covered in soil and sticky sap and our fingernails were black. We played there for the entire day without a thought, eating the food that was thrown at us at various intervals by happy parents, who were probably rejoicing in the extended period of peace back at the house. 

And at the end of that day when darkness had fallen, dirty T's were replaced with warm dressing gowns, we were packed into our cars for the Sunday night return to the city exhausted but blissfully happy with the day we'd spent together so well as we waved each other goodbye knowing that next weekend, further adventures awaited us. And not surprisingly, there was not a smartphone, iPad or computer in sight, or even in existence. Here's to more days like that. For our kids who seem to spend too much time stooped over a screen and not enough time scraping the dirt out from under their fingernails.

Eventually, the council came and took our tree away. And years later, people bought that vacant block, built a house and fenced it up for privacy. Some thirty years later I'm still lucky enough to be able to walk past there often and when I do, I remember the cuts on our legs, the dirt under our nails and the cool evening that crept in. I remember that day as the happiest, most carefree of all.

So what's your most vivid memory? If you were asked to return to the most happy and carefree time of your life, what would it be? 


  1. Christmas time
    Up in cobram on my grandparents orchard. The house was so full we would sleep on fold out beds on the veranda. There was so much food and drink that we would store it in the orchard cool rooms and would go down to re supply at different times during the festivities. Going with my grandfather to turn on and off the irrigation (all other work was on hold). Swimming in the pool. The pool was 33m x 20m and over 5m deep for the diving boards and a bit scary to swim in by yourself but great at Xmas cos everybody was in there. Gazebos and peach drinks.
    Point lonsdale with dads side was fun too. My grandparents house was a labyrinth of rooms and a bungalow out the back but the house could be so full that I was on a fold out bed somewhere! Lots of food, lots of noise and laughs. My grandmother would always fall asleep after lunch and despite whatever new toys we got , we would always end up playing shuttlecock/badminton.
    Point lonsdale has so many great memories for me. I grew up there, as much as anywhere. Learning to swim and surf, nippers and surf life saving, okonuhis, trashy beach bike, 50c for minimum chips after surfing. Easter king tide, the lighthouse, 'the tracks', daring swims with papa off the back of the rock pools, the peir, under age drinking and hi jinx, fires in the sand dunes, foam esky type drink bottles of cordial, the shore break, rainy day trips to other parts, movie night in the church, abalone, old gun/military bunkers, the fog horn, blasting the rip, 1c lollies, double dragon arcade game........hmmmm.
    Thanks for the post TML, I needed to go back to those happy times now.

    1. Love this comment, Gaeton. Funny how family and especially the involvement of grandparents can conjure up the happiest of memories. I too have many similar to yours above. Gotta love the 70s and 80s. Thanks for sharing. X