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Sedona Cactus in the Snow...

Not meaning to brag, but I may have found the secret to happiness - in the top of a coffee cup.

I gave my wife a little latte machine for Christmas.

We have one place close by that makes a good latte and she takes a well-deserved break for a couple months in the winter. Plus, when I say “close by,” I mean a twenty-mile round trip.

I’ve been practicing making lattes for a of couple reasons. First, I’m a thoughtful, kind husband who wants to make his wife happy, and second, I don’t want her thinbking that I bought the machine because I wanted lattes.

A video showed how to make little designs with the foam, and I could do it, except I lack the time, patience, dedication, talent and ambition. But I did discover the secret to happiness.

You make the latte, pour out the last drops of foam, and then decide what it looks like.

For instance, a few days ago I made the Tree of Life, full of the Apples of Happiness.

It apparently wasn’t obvious at first. It took a bit to explain, but I think she got it in the end. Maybe I was holding it upside down.

So, there you have it. Wherever you are, whatever you're dealing with, try to make it the place you need to be, just part of the project that’s the story of your life.

Now, I understand for nearly all of us, there are chapters in our lives that would have been profoundly better to have skipped. Death, divorce, losing a job, losing your health...there’s a long list of events any rational human being would have loved to have avoided. But that’s not in the cards, is it?

As I write this it's a dreary January morning with a bleak wind out of the north and a smattering of snowflakes drifting downwind. When I get this paragraph done, I’m delivering a bag of potato peels and wrinkled tomatoes to the chicken coop to exchange for a dozen eggs. Because the wind blew all night, the path will have filled in, so I’ll be trudging through snow a foot deep. A year ago, that would have been a dreaded ordeal, but now with my new knee it’s just another chore. Not fun, but if I want fried eggs with deep yellow yolks – not to mention angel food cakes with the whites and sponge cake with the yolks when the egg inventory grows too big – a trudging I will go.

So much of life just is. There’s luck, good and bad, and decisions, good and bad. The only thing ever fully within our control is how we work with what we’ve been handed.

This isn’t a big revelation, except perhaps to me. Philosophers have been saying more or less the same thing for thousands of years. You’re as happy as you want to be. Just that easy, and just that impossible.

I’ve been happy most of my life. I wrote that sentence and erased it about five times, because it doesn’t sound true. Lord knows I’ve never been content or satisfied, but most days of my life, whether I’ve been searching for a paragraph that made sense, getting ready to attend a county meeting, or castrating a couple hundred hogs, I’ve almost always been willing to take each day as it came. I don’t always whistle while I work, but most days I start out with a little tune.

This morning’s latte was titled, “Sedona Cactus in the Snow.” She thought it looked like an elk.

The coffee is good either way.

Copyright 2021 Brent Olson


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