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The Scent of Happiness

I write every day. I do it alone. I write to clear my mind and connect more deeply with my thoughts and emotions. A few times my family has joined me, but it’s rare. It only happens when all the stars are aligned and the mood is just right. Tonight was one of those nights. We’d had a lazy Sunday and after dinner we found ourselves trying our skills with a weighted hula hoop. We laughed and teased each other and relished in the spontaneous ease of togetherness.


As we settled down I took a risk and proposed to my partner and sixteen-year-old daughter that we all do a little writing. There was surprising enthusiasm and before anyone changed their mind I seized the moment. I lit a candle, turned on classical music, and set a timer for fifteen minutes.


With pens and notebooks in hand, we took our usual places around the dining room table and prepared to write. My daughter had just peeled an orange and we had a bouquet of white lilacs on the table from our mother’s day brunch earlier in the day. The combination of smells permeated the air around us. The sun was just going down and there was a warm stillness in the house. It was perfect. Everything felt just right. I was happy.


Less than a minute into our writing practice, an invisible dome sealed us into a little snow globe of quietude. As our pens moved quickly on our respective pages, translating our thoughts from our minds to the paper, we were engulfed with a sense of peace and contentment. And though none of us spoke a word, like the swirling snow in a globe, I could feel the silent hum of thoughts, feelings, and sensations moving around us in our little bubble. Nothing was said but everything was heard.


As we all sat together, alone in our thoughts, I followed the scent of the orange and lilacs. The smell carried me into the happiness of summer — the warm smooth feel of the sun browning my skin, the smell of hot pavement and freshly cut grass. I traveled into the memories of lazy family vacations with no work or school or household chores. Corn on the cob. Bees chasing popsicles. Swimming in the lake. Reading on the deck. The end of a long day followed by a deep sleep in crisp, line-dried white sheets.


I had no idea what my partner or my daughter were writing and I likely never would, but I could feel the convergence of energy as we each moved our thoughts from our interiority onto our notebooks.


I tried to stay with the scent of the orange and the lilacs, to keep with this deep sense of joy and happiness, but as I continued to write I became aware of the temporary nature of this moment and my mind wandered. I drifted down from my cloud and back to earth. Though the orange and lilacs were sitting exactly where they’d been when we started writing, the scent had faded. I searched for the barely perceptible smell; I wanted it back.


I looked up from my notebook to find the orange again, to move the lilacs closer but what came into focus was my family — the two people I love the most in the world. The timer went off. We closed our notebooks and the invisible dome that had locked us into that fifteen minutes of magic disappeared. We smiled across the table at each other. We were happy.

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