Have you ever had a moment when everything felt right and good, a feeling washed over you or burst in through an open door somewhere inside you, and you knew everything had fallen into place? I call them bursts of happiness, and they stop me in my tracks for just a moment while I pause and say yes to life, and life says yes to me. They don't happen often. I suppose that's what makes them feel so special.
My bursts of happiness can happen when I'm driving in a car, walking down the road, vacuuming my house, just living life, but always when I least expect them. A couple of days ago, as I was working in the kitchen, I just turned around and there it was: this perfect crystalline moment and life felt so darn sweet.
This morning I opened a book of poetry, as I'm wont to do, and there was none other than Charles Bukowski, a rather rough-edged fellow, looking back at me. His poems, surrounded by all this sad and serious melancholy, usually include just the tiniest bit of light coming through the cracks, his own bursts of happiness. So you see, it can happen to anybody. But, you probably already knew that.
The poem I opened to, "too sweet," reminded me of my own days at the race track. I didn't get there often, never took a trip solely for that purpose, but I recall at least one day in Arizona and more than a few in Hot Springs, Arkansas. I liked to play the ponies and I don't mind saying that. I was a pretty safe bettor, never went too far out on the financial limb.
One day, out of the blue, I decided to get a better look at the horses. It wasn't that I expected to get some inside information, but I like horses and those were some very pretty horses. On my way back to the stands, as I stood and watched them being ridden to the starting gate, a dark-haired fellow silently moved next to me. I was momentarily uncomfortable. Then he quietly said, "Bet on 7." Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I walked to the betting booths and placed my bet, covering Number 7. Couldn't tell you the horse's name now, which is a shame, but in that one bet my entire trip was paid for.
I don't think I've been back since, not because I saw the error of my ways, but for lack of opportunity. Life took me in another direction and my time at the track was over. No regrets. I like going out a winner. Here's Bukowski to tell you how it feels. And not just about winning at the track, but life in those moments when there's an open door in your heart you didn't even know was there and happiness comes bursting through.
I have been going to the track for so
all the employees know
and now with winter here
it's dark before the last
as I walk to the parking lot
the valet recognizes my
and before I reach him
my car is waiting for me,
lights on, engine warm.
the other patrons
"who the hell is that
I slip the valet a
tip, the size depending upon the
luck of the
day (and my luck has been amazingly
and I then am in the machine and out on
as the horses break
from the gate.
I drive east down Century Blvd.
turning on the radio to get the result of that
at first the announcer is concerned only with
bad weather and poor freeway
we are old friends: I have listened to his
voice for decades but,
of course, the time will finally come
when neither of us will need to
clip our toenails or
heed the complaints of our
women any longer.
meanwhile, there is a certain rhythm
to the essentials that now need
I light my cigarette
check the dashboard
adjust the seat and
weave between a Volks and a Fiat.
as flecks of rain spatter the
I decide not to die just
this good life just smells too
~ Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)