Sometimes, when I hike, I experience true happiness in its simplest, plainest form. It’s not in the past with somebody else or in the future in a different place. It’s there, with me, my old hiking boots, a cool breeze, an oak’s shadow, a rusty wooden knife and a ripe avocado. When I realize that happiness is there, it often goes away in the same way that dreams do when you realize you’re dreaming. But I know that just for that moment we sat there together, silent like old mates, letting the leaves do the talking. It was there and I held it for a while. I can live off that moment for quite a long time before I have to go out and search for it again.
You know, it’s tricky this hiking happiness. It’s not there all the time and it often appears when you don’t expect it. Like this autumn when I was hiking in Sweden. The weather was supposed to be excellent but it was actually miserable. It was raining cats and dogs. All day. I was soaked to the bone, sitting under a poor shelter which I found in a small settlement in the middle of the woods. The roof was full of holes. Big drops kept falling around me. It seemed like there was noone but me and the squirrels. I was reading a book and somewhere in the back of my mind I was thinking about what my sleeping conditions would be for the quickly approaching night. My tent would probably get wet and I’dl get cold and dirty. I’d get hungry too as I wouldn’t make it to the village where I wanted to resupply. But, all of sudden, happiness arrived. This time it didn’t look like the old oak or the ripe avocado. It manifested as a small girl with long blond hair. She wore gumboots and she was missing pants for some reason. It didn’t seem to bother her. She was picking up stones and singing a song in Swedish, completely ignoring me and the miserable weather. The water drops were dripping out of her cute hair. I realized that once again it was me who was miserable, not the weather, the day or the following night. It was me who decided to feel like shit and who was not strong and present enough to enjoy the rain and mud. As I was looking at the girl and her wet hair, a smile spread all over my face. I leaned out of the shelter and let the rain drops fall onto my face. Getting wet all of a sudden didn’t matter. It felt so unimportant. I became so happy for where I was and for getting the chance to get wet, cold, hungry and dirty. So I packed my rucksack and shot off into the lovely rain. This time the happiness stayed with me for the rest of the day. I reckon she was happy for giving me a lesson once again. And yup, my happiness is a female.
Only Buddhas can feel happiness at any moments. I hope that one day I’ll be able to see and find happiness whenever I want. But for now, I’m glad I know where to look for it. For me it’s up in the windy mountains, close to foggy lakes, down in deep grassy valleys and on trails not much known but still as beautiful as Anna in the morning. The more I hike, the more often I find my happiness out there and bring it back with me to everyday life. I wish everyone to find their own happiness sources. If you haven’t found it yet, I can only recommend you put your old boots on, get out there and see what happens. Write to me and tell me what you find.