Author: Jo Hazelhurst

My friend says he is happy. I forgot to ask, what happiness means to him. He is engaged to a woman he loves and adores. And she loves and adores him right back. He has a dream job that he works very hard in, and rewards him well. He has talent, wealth and good looks. He rides motorbikes and plays golf. He’s not short on friends, family or charm.

“Absolutely,” I said back to my friend, “I’m most definitely happy.” Later, there was a niggle in the deep crevices of my stomach. “Am I really?”

Some days I am gloriously in love with life. But more often than not, I wrestle with myself, and what it means to be me. I think I am jealous. Or perhaps it is longing I feel. I think everyone has a touch of longing in them.

Would I be any happier if I had a motorbike? Would I have less conflict if I made a million, or was with the love of my life?

Would these things bring peace to the battle in my heart?

Last week, I sat on the beach with a flock of penguins waddling on the rocks. Playfully, they splashed and bathed in the deep, blue ocean waters. Penguins are said to search for that one mate. They share a life together.

There was an older pair, tenderly giving affectionate kisses and back rubs. Every now and again, much to the delight of passers by, they would attempt at penguin lovemaking. Affectionate, awkward, and undeterred by our stares.

The young ones dived and dipped into the ocean. Life a grand affair.

A young child dashed with great abandon towards them. She glanced at her mother and laughed. She tossed her head back, and flung sand towards the sky. The world was her oyster, and pigs most definitely had wings.

Both child and penguins made magic together. They put on a show, as if God had arranged it especially for me. Uninhibited, wild and free. They bubbled.

It touched me deeply. I think there is a part in all of us that longs for this kind of freedom. Without the need for a glass of wine or a Swazi pipe. Without the need to ‘look good, or be right.’ Without the need for a husband or wife. Yes, I think this is what happiness means for me. I think this is the nature of my thirst

At a recent workshop, my partner and I facilitated a ‘First Impressions Exercise’. More than one person said they saw me as ‘carefree.’ I was taken aback. Its interesting the impressions we give others. That means it must be there, this freedom of mine – buried somewhere.


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