The night couldn’t have been more perfect. We’d arrived at this beautiful concert venue to hear the John Butler Trio. The sun was setting and a gentle breeze was kicking up and cooling off the day. It hadn’t been oppressively hot, but it had been hot enough.
We were soaking up the ambiance, waiting on friends.
I kept thinking, “What a great place to experience music.” I’ve been to Red Rocks in Colorado, amazing place, really wonderful.
But this evening Sandpoint was the kiss of perfection, the festival grounds nestled between the mountains and the lake help create really an intimate feel, a kind of “up close and personal” vibe.
The Festival promoters bill it as place where it “feels as though the artist are playing in your back yard, a private concert just for you and your.”
This evening it was living up to the billing.
It was perfect, and if you, or anyone else, had asked me in that moment, I would have said this is happiness.
A thought ran through my mind, “Is this what it takes to create true happiness?”
He began by acknowledging all the ancestors. Then he said something that instantly brought me back to my question.
After honoring the ancestors, he followed with – and I don’t remember his exact word so I’m paraphrasing here – “we need to live in every moment, all of them, the ups and the downs – we need to live these moments with passion.”
There was more to it, but had John answered my question.
You experience true happiness when you have a passion for something and bring a sense of purpose to whatever circumstances you find yourself in.
All happiness is in the moment, it’s never in anything. Believing that “I’ll be happy when or I’ll be happy if” creates two problems.
First, it’s conditioned.
You’re hoping that something out there, out-side of yourself is going to “make you happy.”
That can never happen because without “you” there is no happiness. The job isn’t happy, you’re happy with the job. The new car hasn’t got some spare happiness stowed away in the trunk, you’re happy to have the car. The emotion’s yours.
The “ifs” and “whens” can lead you to happiness, but they can’t make you happy.
Second, the “ifs” and “whens” are always in the future and the future is in the imagination. And even when you achieve your goal, rarely is it what you imagined.
Sometimes it comes close, and there are even those occasionally experiences that surpass the “hype” that’s been going on in your head.
But let me ask you, how long do the feelings last?
Win the Olympics, hit the “big one” in the lottery or even find the love of your life; eventually the thrill fades, the high subsides.
I’d be willing to bet, that you’ve known people – and even if not personally, you only have to look as far as the celebrity headlines – who have achieved great thing, they have all the trappings of a successful life, and yet their actions betray their true nature; they are unhappy.
That would be depressing, knowing that it’s all fleeting, if the goal is all you have.
There’s a teaching in the Bhagavad Gita, “You have control over action alone, never over its fruits.”
In this one sentence is the key to true happiness.
The “journey of a thousand steps,” may begin with the first one, but the key to true happiness lies in bring presence and passion to the next nine hundred and ninety nine.
You cannot know if you will actually achieve “the fruits of your action” in this life. You can only choose what it is you do, and what action you’ll take based on those choices, to create the life you desire.
The trio began playing “I used to get high,” their anthem to those folks suffering at a job they hate, their version of the old Johnny Paycheck song, “Take this job and shove it;” as they played I felt their passion and their compassion.
Happiness fills you spontaneously when you love what you’re doing. Passion is how you live your life, and goals are what you do along the way to create it.
That’s why it’s so important to have a passion for the moment and the journey. It’s the key to true happiness.
You are always creating moment-to-moment, the goals are markers you pass quickly along the way – mostly off in the distance or in the rear-view mirror – the largest part of your life is journey, the destination is a pit stop.
When the John Butler Trio achieved their goal having played the last encore, I suspect they celebrated the evening. They appeared to have enjoyed the ride, they were in the moment while they were entertaining us and then, I’ll bet, it was on to choosing what was they wanted to create next.
You don’t need to be in a band to live on purpose. Even the seemingly “mundane” can be joy-filled if you are present and passionate about your choices. What’s cool is that when you live in the present and on purpose, but you don’t care for where you are now, you can choose differently.
Yes, it can be challenging and even scary, but you do have a choice, and I believe that if you believe the universe will support you in ways that you can’t imagine.
Go ahead then, take your cue from the band, and once realized a dream, celebrate it, dance like nobody’s watching, and then get back to living in the moment, experiencing the passion and envisioning your next journey
Just for fun, here’s a nice version of “I used to get high.”