Happiness is like a butterfly which when pursued, is always beyond our grasp; but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you. -- Nathaniel Hawthorne
"What was the happiest moment in your life?" Dan asked of us as we began a day of vision casting here on our campus. I'm not sure if anyone ever asked me that question but I knew the answers everyone gave would provide a fresh perspective into all of our lives.
To help us have time to ponder the question, Dan went first. Although many experiences brought him great happiness, he described his own happiest moment. It came at the close of his arduous doctoral program. The coursework and research and dissertation were finished. He had just defended his work and he waited for the results.
He was invited into the room and for the first time he heard, "Congratulations, Dr. Mortensen." As he described that moment with deep emotion, he told us he got into his car and let out a shout of happiness.
Jim described the birth of each of his three children. Those moments have forever etched themselves in his mind and heart. I wish you had seen the look on his face as he tried to tell us about them.
Phil surprised us all by referring to a simple act that took place approximately 50 years ago. He was only four years old. His father was a railroad engineer who rarely joined him for play in the local park. On that happy day, however, he remembered being inside a wheelbarrow as his father wheeled him down the hill.
Jenny grew up around horses. She loved to break them in for riding. She almost always rode bareback. She was a farm-girl from central Minnesota. Somewhere between ages 10 and 12 she took a special horse for a special ride. Perhaps it was the horse that took her for a ride.
She remembers that ride. The horse took off running at full speed. And she just let him run. The power of that horse with the wind blowing into her face brought her indescribable happiness. For nearly two miles she flew along. With great effort she slowed him down, turned him around, and at break-neck speed, those hoofs pounded their way back home.
Chick described the happiness he receives when he observes his three children and their spouses achieving success. Since I know his two sons and daughter as well as their spouses, I could easily picture what he meant.
What was the happiest moment in my life? I had a hard time isolating just one. My friends undoubtedly also struggled to narrow their answers to only one. I obviously would have to say marrying Evie or having our children born. But beyond those watershed experiences, I would include the invitation to join the faculty at North Central University.
For nearly 10 years I had planned and prayed and worked to become a professor at the college level. I completed my baccalaureate degree. I pastored a church for 7 years. I completed my master's degree. I sent my application to several colleges and waited. And waited. And waited. I was invited to Minneapolis for an interview and right after that experience, the call came. My happiness knew no bounds.
As I listened to each answer and shared my own that day, I thought of Robert Brandts, "Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.'' Happiness can even come out of the unexpected experiences for, as someone said, "A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery while on a detour.''
So, what was the happiest moment in your life? Ask a few people you know. Share yours with them.
"Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn't know you left open." -- John Barrymore.
Think about it.
Dr. Meyer is president of Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville. Responses can be emailed to email@example.com.