Happy Happenstances


Doubling up

Doubling up (Photo credit: Brett Jordan)

Anna Quindlen on the subject of fear and how it changes over time:

“Perhaps instead of scaring ourselves we need to surprise ourselves every day. We are, after all, always a work in progress. There were things I hadn’t done, didn’t know, couldn’t imagine at fifty that have all come true in the last decade. There must be such things to come in the decades to come as well. They arrive not because of the engraved invitations of careful planning but through happy happenstance, doodles on the to-do list of life.”

This was just one bit of pithy advice I gleaned from Quindlen’s latest book, “Lot of Candles, Plenty of Cake”, a memoir of her life. But it is a memoir with a difference, with a message or two or three, with her wry observations of life creating more than one aha moment.

Her quote was based on Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice that it is important to do something every day that scares us, but Quindlen makes the point that as we put a few years under our belts, fewer thing scare you. So instead she opts for surprise. I would like to opt for surprise, for happy happenstances.

We all have “situations” and “issues” that are big and need to be taken care of. But I have come to the conclusion that we cannot stop living while we are trying to get these resolved. As we are living through them, we have to stop and enjoy the happy happenstances. (try saying that three times fast)

Bliss is the happy happenstances or “the doodles on our life list”. What are your doodles?

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26 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I enjoyed your piece and also the great related articles!

  2. Lou, I think this is one of favorite ever bliss posts of yours. You are so right and I love Anna Quindlen. I have a little book of hers, “A Short Guide to a Happy Life,” that is so great, I keep it with me, within reach and have for years. It a great reminder like your post of just how great life can be, how precious it is and what a priviledge it is to live, love and laugh and yes, even go through the most troubling times, knowing that there is always the “other side” of the bad times — always, and we just never know what kind of bliss is around the corner. GREAT POST!!! Happy weekend, my friend.

    • I am so glad you like it and I have that book too – I sometimes give it away to graduates etc–but I wanted one for myself as I, like you, think it has a lot of the secrets of life in it. Great post coming from you means a lot — (((hugs)))

  3. I love this post, too, LouAnn. I especially like the idea of “doodles on our life list.” I think it’s the doodles that are life. When we look at it that way, it relieves the need to create a perfect drawing and let life live!

  4. Anna Quindlen is one of my favorites for her gems of wisdom.

  5. The doodles in our lives are what keep us sane.
    Gotta’ try & enjoy life as best as we can – when we can.

  6. Doodles do remind me a little of unexpectancy and surprise – Anna is such a wise writer, I could not agree with her more 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

  7. This is a lovely post. I agree that the doodles are often more happy than any plan, because they happen so effortlessly, while the plans (even if they are plans for happy things) can be quite stressful.

  8. I don’t think that I can even say “happy happenstance” twice correctly. What a tongue twister! 🙂

  9. I guess one of my doodles right now is to purchase a donkey. *l* Aim low and avoid disappointment, eh?

  10. Yes, Ms Q. is quite the gifted person. She has so much wisdom and insight. As far as the doodles are concerned- I am just happy to make it through the day without anything breaking. My doodles are more about being grateful for being alive. And well if something unexpected is better than expected that is a bonus.

    I don’t think I addressed the question very well- but anyhow I tried. I was not exactly relevant. 🙂


  11. I love this twist on some familiar advice! How much more inviting is sounds to surprise myself than to scare myself! Even if it comes to the same thing, surprise is a much more positive approach than fear! ~ Sheila

  12. Oh dear. I’m about to alienate you, methinks. I can’t help but feel that Anne’s words are the anodyne ones of someone who doesn’t actually have all that much to worry about. Sorry, I didn’t like her attitude one little bit

    • I certainly know where you are coming from — she has never lived a life where she was wondering where the money was coming from for the next groceries or if she could make her mortgage payments, so it is easier to want surprises when you come from a place of want rather than need

      • I din’t think she had, somehow.

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