Tag Archives: shoes

An Open Letter to Happiness

Dear Happiness,

I used to think of you as a rabbit.

You would appear just a few feet away, nose twitching, ears up. Always at least one eye on me. It was always cool to see you appear, but as soon as I would try to touch you, to feel your fur, you would dart off. Zig-zagging away. Your fluff of a tail waving goodbye.

RabbitEven when I would stumble onto a moment, unplanned, unexpected. You would be gone in a flash. I could never get close enough to catch you. To hold you in my arms. Feel your breathing, or smell your untamed spirit. You were too quick for me, even in my prime.

I know better now. I know that you, Happiness, are not a rabbit.

I know now that I was chasing other people’s expectations. The rabbits are social definitions of you. Rabbits that I can never catch. I’ll never have enough, or be enough, to catch them. It is still cool to see them in my yard. They still appear, nose twitching, eyes looking at me as if to say, “You can catch me this time! Really, you can.”

It’s hard not to give into the urge to chase them. To finally know how their fur feels, to feel that sense of pride after capturing one. But, I am so glad I finally saw you, Happiness.

I’ve heard the best place to hide is in plain sight. Happiness, you did that well. I remember when I discovered you were there, right by the front door. I laughed out loud because you were there every time I chased a rabbit. The day I figured it out, you were a pair of black Nike running shoes. I was headed out to take a walk to deal with the tension in my soul. And there you were, my shoes.

I see you, Happiness, all the time. You are my dress shoes I wear as a teacher, or when I go on a fancy date with my wife. You are the grass stained, worn out shoes in the garage I use to mow in. Once I figured it out, I knew you were there all the time. You were my football cleats. My track shoes. You were the shoes I bought when I started playing slow-pitch softball. You were there on my first day of kindergarten; nice clean shoes for the first day of school.

red shoesI only wish that I figured it out sooner. Even so, thank you Happiness, for being there every day. I understand that you are not a moment to be captured. You are the moments I live. Even in the rough spots, you are there. I found you in the ditch after my first car accident. I wore you as I boarded that Greyhound bus leaving my biological family behind. I was wearing a pair of Nike IDs when my second son was rushed out of the delivery room. I understand that you are there in everything I do, rain or shine.

I may never catch a rabbit, but I know I’ll have a great pair of shoes on when I run. Or even better, I’ll wear them as I sit on the front porch with my family watching the rabbits play.


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Light-up Shoes

Shoes“My shoes?” my youngest daughter asks. Right now almost everything is a question.

“My daddy?” she asks after daycare.

“Yep, I’m your daddy,” I would say. Then she would smile. I totally understand Tim McGraw’s song “Grown Men Don’t Cry” now.

But back to the shoes. They are light-up Paw Patrol shoes. My little girl ran around the living room making the shoes light up. Every few seconds she would ask if I had seen the lights on her shoes. Then she would ask mom, the girls, my oldest son. “See my shoes?”

I will be honest, I was hit with the fact that I would soon not buy another pair of light-up shoes. I’m pretty sure that every one of my kids have gotten a pair of light-up shoes. They would run around making them light up.  They would smile. It was the best day of their young lives the day they got light-up shoes. Such a simple thing, but brings such a pure joy.

My oldest son was eating a quick breakfast, he had speech practice this morning. But he stopped and responded to his sister. I wondered if I had done anything for him so he felt like he was having the best day of his young life. I was a washed with dad guilt. Raising six kids, being a husband, being in the middle of figuring out a career, can make life feel restricted and stressful. But it is the small things that make the biggest difference in this world.

Love is expressed in the small things, an unexpected hug, a funny GIF sent in an email/text. A handwritten note can clear away the storm clouds. A favorite drink or candy bar can change a person’s view. Or having pockets…

My daughter stops in front of me. Her hands are stuffed into her little front pockets of her pants. “I have pockets!” It is not a question. Then she takes off running with her hands still stuffed into her pockets. My dad instincts kick in, I hope she doesn’t fall as she makes it to the front door.

“My coat?” she asks with a smile.

It’s going to be a great day, even if I do shed a tear.

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