Who determines that special day?

What you need to know:

Happiness is not a destination but a journey, and it is found in the simple joys of everyday life

Take a minute and look around you. What things do you deny yourself because you are reserving them for a special day? If you have clothing, shoes and jewellery you have designated special but it is collecting dust and going out of style, my advice to you is to wear it all now. Enjoy it now when you still can. 

Jessica is one of those consummate collectors; she collects shoes, bags, clothes and jewellery. She has a weakness for big brand names such as Gucci, Dior, Valentino and Christian Louboutin. She will save for months to buy an original pair of shoes. She once saved for three years to buy herself a handbag. Her closet looks like a high-end boutique; everything is still wrapped and sealed in original packages.

 I did not know this side of her until I went to visit her at home where she was recuperating following a boda boda accident. On entering, I was struck by how immaculate and pristine her compound and house looked. Her four sons, all under 12 years of age sat on the veranda doing newspaper puzzles while her daughter sat crocheting not far from her brothers. The house itself would pass for a high-class private hospital judging from how spotless everything is kept.

As we sat talking, Jessica told me getting involved in the accident was the wake-up call she needed. She confessed to me that for years, she would not let her children enjoy their home because she did not want them to mess up its picture-perfectness. So, she always forced them to sit on that verandah for hours doing sedentary activities and now they do not know how to play as other children do.

Jessica, whose sister lives in the United Kingdom, often sends her all these incredible household items which she keeps unused including two children’s bikes that I saw in one corner, which her sons had outgrown.  Shiny cutlery winked at me in the cabinet and next to rows of glasses and plates that only get cleaned and put back without being used.

Wakeup call

“For whom was I keeping all these things?” She asked me in bewilderment. “How could I deny my children the pleasure of enjoying their toys; enjoying their home?” She wondered.

“But do you know what breaks my heart the most? Those beautiful and expensive shoes I faithfully saved for but might never get to enjoy!” She confessed. 

 “Wear those shoes! Go out with your friends and have a good time whenever you feel like it,” she urged me. I could tell the accident had transformed her perspective on life because she was the kind who always wondered why we wore nice shoes to work because they would only end up getting damaged by the school compound.

So, I asked what she was planning to do with all these unused or unusable things she had collected over the years. She told me she was already using whatever could be put to use right now. “Every dinner I get out my best dishes and cutlery and set the table for my family and we have a good time. You will be surprised at how much these experiences have enriched my children’s esteem. They feel valued and appreciated,” she revealed.

As I left, I was so surprised to see the children running around the compound looking so different from their usually quiet and lethargic selves.

On my way home, I pondered on my friend’s newly found wisdom and I was glad she had been given a second chance. I know the tendency to hoard came from the austerity years when most of the goods our children take for granted were as rare as gold dust.

But this normal explanation is fed by fear and an aversion to risk, which in the end limits our growth because it denies us the experiences that come from enjoying the present moment, hoping to do it at a later time. Why are we so convinced that we will still be the same people at that future time? As my friend found out, happiness is not a destination but a journey, and it is found in the simple joys of everyday life.

Seizing the moment allows us to savour these moments of happiness, to revel in the beauty of the world around us, and to find the contentment we hunger for. Whether it is taking a personal day off to sleep in, or wearing your best outfit to have dinner in your dining room, these moments enrich our lives and give life more meaning.