Her question threw me off a bit.
It was bold, especially coming from someone I only recently met.
She said it casually.
She said it quickly.
She stared into my eyes awaiting my reply.
“Are you happy?”
This week, I turn 55. I’m truly not bothered by that number. In fact, I look forward to getting older. I’m wiser, more self-aware, and more patient than I was when I was younger. I live a drama-free life, and I love it. I have learned that some things really matter; many things do not.
So, 55? Cool. It’s just a number.
“Well, are you…happy?”
I hesitated and I deflected.
“Don’t I look happy?” I laughed awkwardly. She saw right through this. I answered a question with a question. “That’s not an answer,” she replied.
She was right.
I didn’t say “yes” right away, and here’s why: I am happy. I’m having a really nice life. I got more than I ever thought I would, as the song goes.
Now, here comes the but.
I am happy, but, I used to be happier. And that’s nobody’s fault.
Honestly, there was pre-COVID Curt and there is post-COVID Curt. I tested positive for the virus one year ago on my birthday this week. I recovered just a few weeks later. The actual illness wasn’t too terrible. Still, it robbed me. It left me different, and not better.
Physically, I’m not close to where I was. And mentally, some of my hope and optimism were drained from me. It’s weird. I’m me, but I’m not. But I’m doing the work and I fully expect healing.
So, another birthday is here and I plan to eat cake. Am I happy? Sure, because every day that’s what I choose, and one day that choice will come as easily as it once did. This is a season, and seasons change.
I smiled at my new friend who asked me a simple yet complex question. “What a great question,” I told her. “Thank you for asking.”
She smiled back at me. And I felt a little tiny bit more optimism return.