Tuesday, 19 October 2010

How to be happy

Yesterday I picked my daughter up from school and I could tell straight away that she was not happy.
She moaned and snapped and generally abused me all the way home.
I tried asking her about what had happened at school.
I tried feeding her.
I tried shouting and forbidding TV.
I said: “Go to your room and read a book”
She said “In your dreams”
She’s nine.
I don’t know how it happened but somehow we both got to be standing next to each other in the kitchen, peeling the giant pumpkin she grew over the summer.
We cut and sliced with sharp knives. We passed each other boards, graters and peelers. We talked quietly.
We worked hard.  In the midst of growing piles of peel, pulp and neat pumpkin slices, we were smiling at each other.  Suddenly, I realized we were happy.
Funny that.  You think that you’ll be happy when you lose the weight, get the guy, make the money, change the job, go on holiday, go back home, win the Nobel Peace Prize, but instead you get happy when you are peeling pumpkins, washing dishes or sharpening pencils.
It’s hard to remember in the midst of a sliding funk, that the thing to do is not to analyse yourself, distract yourself, practise your chosen compulsion or compare yourself to others.
When you want to lie down, you have to get up. When you want to crawl under your duvet, you have to get back to work.  When you want to put your feet up, you have to put your trainers on.
And in a way, it doesn’t matter where you go or what you do.
Kohellet, one of my favourite books, says this: “Only this I have found is a real good: that one should eat and drink and get pleasure with all the gains that you make under the sun, during the numbered days of your life... Whatever it is in your power to do, do with all your might”
Yesterday it was in my power to peel a pumpkin and turn it into pumpkin fritters which are unbelievably delicious sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon.
Pumpkin fritters
Two cups of fresh, grated pumpkin
Half a cup of flour
One teaspoon baking powder
Half a teaspoon of salt
One teaspoon of sugar
One teaspoon of cinnamon
One egg beaten
Four tablespoons milk

Mix it all together. Fry spoonfuls slowly in vegetable oil (about half a finger-width in depth).  Turn them and pat them a bit flatter as you do.
When golden brown on both sides, drain on kitchen towel.
Serve with cinnamon and sugar mixed in an egg cup.