The film Hector and the Search for Happiness came recommended to me recently, and because I will do anything to avoid completing actual work for my three credit course, I watched it. In fact, I watched four movies in less than 24 hours one day last week. I’m pretty sure my children ate, probably got to camp on time, and I know they got picked up, so it’s all good. Hector didn’t change my life, but there was a lovely takeaway: my title here. Hector’s kind of a tool psychiatrist who arrives at a moment of inquiry–he begins to question his professional practice, wondering what makes people happy. He temporarily ditches his life, personal and professional, and embarks on a cross-continent quest for the answer to his question. Turns out he lied to himself a bit–sure, he wondered what made others happy, but was most deeply invested in his own pursuit of happiness. After not sleeping with the beautiful prostitute, trekking to a shrine high, high in the Himalaya not finding what he sought, being taken prisoner in Africa, and not rekindling with an old love (um, spoiler alert?), he reflects that perhaps happiness is found not in the end game, but in the pursuit itself. I liked that. The happiness of pursuit. Life doesn’t neatly answer essential questions such as Hector’s or mine. Though others have asked me, I’ve never myself asked the world, “Why my son, why is HE the one?” and I surely don’t expect an answer. Let me tell you about my big kid’s pursuit last week.
It was “Outdoor Adventures” at YMCA day camp last week. After signing the damn waiver, my kid hopped right up on that rock climbing wall, and guess what? He was the only kid of eleven to summit (OK, summit might be something of an overdramatization, but, hello? have we met?). When I picked him up Tuesday, the counselors were applauding him and celebrating his effort. My kid told me that he got very near the top, and really tired out, really, really. Instead of rapelling down though, he took a moment to rest, two stories up, and decided to continue. Continue he did, then almost didn’t make it a second time. He rested yet again and after which, summoned the fortitude to hit the top. The only one. You just can’t know what an accomplishment this is. Determination and resolution are not characteristics I’d have ascribed to him before. I’m still misting up as I recall the camp counselors cheering him, hours after his epic climb.
He was discharged from this round of occupational therapy Friday. Cue the party horns! I learned that his bi-annual visits to the neurologist mean bi-annual reevaluations of his physical status based on his declination. Apparently declination is a neurology word loosely translating into “what you’re no longer fucking capable of doing, like, oh you know, walking or playing piano.” OK, that’s not the clinical definition, Noah Webster. Declination is a shitty word, but immensely more professional sounding than shitty, which is why OTs and PTs use it, and I, Empress of Speech and Queen of the Gutter Mouth, go with something less refined. Round One of OT and PT are the baseline measures from which all future crap (declination) is gauged. His therapeutic maintenance and/or gains are such that our insurance will not pay for any more visits until he can’t, oh you know, walk or play piano. I kid. Despite my crabbing here, he’s made some gains, and to his efforts, I loudly and gleefully shout, “Hurray!” (not “hoorah” or “hurrah” people, seriously I’m not giving this one up).
My older son is not terribly effusive. A minimalist with emotional vocabulary, I know he felt proud of both this week. He gets this smirk and a little twinkle in his green eyes when he gives you that smirk. I saw that smirk when he talked about his week–it may have been just a flash–just for a few seconds, but his mom saw it in the way his eyes turned up and crinkled at their corners. Pursuit. Accomplishment. Happiness. My boy. My heart.