I know a little three-letter word that is truly big: big. Cities are nicknamed using it: the Big Easy — New Orleans; Big Apple — NYC. Major world cities using the name makes it big.
Do you know where we missed the boat on using the little word? The Big Happy — it’s a place waiting to be discovered, just like you can discover and explore the Big Apple or Big Easy.
Most of us want to be happy, but the problem is that we let little things take the place of the Big Happy. How would you enjoy some obscure little town where they have a local volunteer theater group compared to going to a Broadway production of The Lion King? Not much comparison, but some people would feel like a play’s a play and they would see the local production of Miss Shirley’s Blueberry Pie and be satisfied that they saw live theater. Now, nothing’s wrong with that in and of itself, but you would be kidding yourself if you think that one of those is not Big compared to the other.
So, we think we will be happy with little things: a new job, lover, house, car, city, boat… . Doesn’t matter what, but they are not the Big Happy. Who are you at your heart core, and what is your purpose, i.e., what will you do with your life to express who you are? Answer those, and you have arrived at the Big Happy. We often settle for those little happies; they mask the challenge and are the easy way out of discovering purpose.
Want an example? Ulysses, Odysseus, in Tennyson’s famous poem “Ulysses,” decides after he has been back on his throne for three years — after being away for twenty years — that he needs to leave Ithaca. Why? He knew little happies were not good enough: king, beautiful wife, wealthy, respected, a legend. His Big Happy, though, his heart, was Explorer. Even though old, his “gray spirit yearn[ed] in desire / To follow knowledge like a sinking star, / Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.” What so many others equated with success was killing him: “How dull it is to pause, to make an end, / To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!” Ego, friends, and family had rationalized that he deserved these good things, he deserved honor, he deserved ease, but he was rusting. Old age meant nothing to him in pursuing his passion and purpose, yet it took him three years to realize it. He had taken the easy, unchallenged, logical life.
And so do many of us. Have you arrived at that place of purpose that can’t be denied by all the possible little happies? The Big Happy can’t be reasoned away by others, can’t be reasoned away by the ego, can’t be denied without soul distress, and won’t decline in intent with age.
Unless you have deceived yourself, you will know restlessness of soul and heart until you arrive at the Big Happy. Get there, please. You will find others there, just like Ulysses had a crew going with him, those with whom he “toil’d, and wrought, and thought.” The Big Happy is a place of enthusiasm, joy, hard work, challenge, and infinite reward — for life.
Questions to consider:
How many times have you asked yourself or simply thought about the following questions?
Who am I, really?
What is my truth?
How do my actions reveal what I really feel and believe?
What would I do with my life if I could do anything?
What is my passion?
Why am I here?
How can I discover answers to any of these questions?
If you have considered any of these questions, I hope that my experiences and writing will give you some guidance. Please read my blog and comment and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!