myIAKI // by KAYLA M
When asked to write a brief piece about what makes me happy, I found myself frozen. Digging for a noticeable event that recently occurred, searching the storyline of my life for a highlight worth putting down on paper and scouring my surroundings for "happiness," I couldn't find a single redeemable thing. I covered all of society's basics: money, career, status, cool car, glorified achievements..etc. I thought to myself "I'm broke as hell, like consistently broke...I go to work from 9:00-5:00 every day with no aspirations of a career--not to mention the faith that there is one out there perfectly suited for my minimal skillset. What does status even translate to?...I mean, some people like me and some don't. I drive a 2008 KIA that I swear once belonged to an ancient white man who only drove it to and from Bingo nights. Achievements..? I did one full semester of community college in 2019..does that count? Yeah, let's count that."
After my glaringly hopeless walk down the treacherous mental path of society's definition of happiness, I looked over at my cat, Zuko, who was stuck in a plastic bag. My heart lit up, and it hit me. Why in the world was I having such a hard time pinpointing the joy in my life? I'm surrounded by it every day! It's found in my cat-in-a-bag moments, and my wow-my-boyfriend-is-a-good-guy moments; my thank-god-my-little-sister-is-sober moments, and my holy-crap-I-rent-a-house-with-3-people-I-love-and-respect moments.
5 years ago I couldn't keep a drink out of my mouth to save my life. I found myself sitting alone, in jail again, feeling absolutely no sympathy for the nightmares that haunted my mom each night of getting "that call". Now I live my days in recovery, helping others discover the freedom of life without drugs and alcohol that I have found. That 9:00-5:00 job I drag my feet to every morning is LITERALLY playing a part in saving lives. I get to see the light of hope and the beams of strength slowly break through people, who themselves once felt like I did--hopeless and alone.
Back to the broke thing, how am I gonna spin that one, right? Like this: I have everything I need on a daily basis...and a whole lot of things that I want.
My achievements consist of being a good human day in and day out and remedying my wrongs on the seldom days I don't make the cut. I have achieved serenity, peace, and a newfound gratitude for life and the people in it. I have achieved success in relationships of the family, friend, and dare I say, romantic variety. Today I am aware of my shortcomings and that's an achievement in itself.
In summary, my life is filled to the brim with happiness...It's just not the kind that we were raised to believe really counts. I find happiness in witnessing my loved ones pursuing their dreams and daring to change the world one protest at a time. I find happiness in a home full of creatures, both fleshed and furry, who love me enough to tell me when I need to pray for someone and quit acting like I'm the Queen of the world. I find happiness in delicious meals and fun adventures. I find happiness in little flowers on medians and pleasant glances at the grocery store. I find happiness in my ability to stand up for what I believe in and my desire to offer respect to those around me.
I find happiness in the love that overwhelms me each and every day, in the love for myself, for others, and in the love for a second chance to live a harmonious life trudging the road to a happy destiny.
That's what happiness means to me.