Happiness

Dandelions on a spring morning run

Recently, a friend recommended Willa Cather’s My Ántonia so I have been reading it. I’ve always avoided this book because it sounded too much like required high school reading. Now I understand why that is so, although I don’t know that I would have appreciated all this book had to offer had I read it earlier in life.

The other day I paused in my reading at a section that held particular resonance. Given how much I have been trying to focus on being present in my life, this paragraph was an unexpected gift.

In a nod to Iron Rider’s First Friday Writing for Randos (well worth checking out when you have a moment), I share this excerpt from My Ántonia.

I kept as still as I could. Nothing happened. I did not expect anything to happen. I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.

7 thoughts on “Happiness”

  1. It was high school readings for one of my kids, so I picked it up and read it. I loved it. And I totally agree with you that so many of the books we are required to read in school we are not ready for. I’ve re-read most of my junior high and high school books. Many of the ones I hated turned out to be excellent once I had some life experience and knowledge in my head. I’d still rather be waterboarded than slog through Wuthering Heights or Great Expectations, though.

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  2. I need to revisit that story. It’s been so many years that I’m left with just some vague memories, some beautiful, some sad.

    (On a personal note,Willa Cather will always have good associations for me. During college, I went on a class trip to visit Red Cloud, NE, where Cather had spent some of her childhood, and where many of the settings and characters for My Antonia were drawn. It was on the long drive of that trip that I properly got to know my future wife.)

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  3. I know I read it at some point during my school years (though I don’t think it was a set text) and have good associations… so I must have enjoyed it… but sadly I can’t actually remember anything about it. Lovely quote though so I guess it’s time I re-read it!

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