... I was recalling a challenge I was offered in the course of one of those weekend workshops, perhaps at the Esalen Institute, a number of years ago. The challenge was to return to the last moment at which I could remember being truly and completely happy--the kind of happiness that is unclouded by even the slightest fear or worry, the sense of complete, unfettered bliss.
I'd like to offer that challenge to anyone who cares to take it. You might surprise yourself. It's no easy task. It requires some quiet reflection, some intimate connection with the unconscious mind. Given a moment of spontaneous insight, it will pop up. If you seize it at that moment, you'll be rewarded by an always-accessible gateway to the source of happiness in your life... And all you'll need to do is write it down.
Here's what popped up for me:
by Peter Clothier
Here I am. It is a warm day, the sky unusually blue. I swing back and forth, back and forth, out over the Bedfordshire landscape, flat and wide.
The swing hangs from the lower branch of the great pine tree that stands halfway between the Rectory and the church of St. Botolph’s, toward which my father now strides purposefully on his way to Mattins, his cassock flapping at his heels, a prayer book in his hand, and notes for his Sunday morning sermon.
Beside me, on the grass, sits Hank, the border collie, with his shaggy coat of black and white, his ever watchful, ever patient, ever calm brown eyes.
Back and forth, back and forth…
In the far distance, the tall chimney stacks of the brick works penetrate the purple line of the horizon. Up close, the Tudor farmhouse and its big barn stand across the street. Chickens peck at the seeds amongst the straw, ducks quack contentedly as they waddle in the mud.
Behind me, the Rectory windows glint, reflecting sunlight, clouds. High up, the small dark oculus, through which the barn owl flies at night to attend to her owlets in her attic nest.
My mother works at the kitchen range. She is cooking jam, perhaps. Perhaps, if I am lucky, I will later be allowed a spoonful of the sweet hot scum that rises to the top. Now and then she will look out, through the kitchen window to watch me on the swing. Perhaps she calls my name…
Back toward the Rectory, forward toward the church. Swinging back toward mother, forward toward dad.
This is how it is with me. Up into the sky, back down toward the earth. Back and forth, back and forth… Timeless. This is the happiest of all memories.