Not kidding. This is actually a job. In Brooklyn. “Community Manager and Chief Happiness Officer.” God, I love this generation. For all its foibles and failings and impending earth-dying doom, I don’t know if there was ever a time in history (maybe the 60s) where this could be listed in semi-earnest.
Yesterday as I was driving home from my chiro in SF, I had my windows down. It was hot, but not too hot, and it was curious to see who had their car hermetically sealed with A/C and who enjoyed the breeze. At first, of course, my elbow is resting on the window ledge, half committed to experiencing the flow of air. Then, as we begin to move faster onto the Bay bridge, I place my palm into the air, and let the wind carry it, make it dance, still tethered to the anchor of my resting elbow.
Finally, I decide or am pulled to go for it: My arm floats up off the ledge, we’re whizzing over the bridge now, and my arm, elbow, hand are carried up into the wind.
My arm pumps into the air, high up, almost straight up. People can see me, I see them driving past looking back at me, smiling, and I’m smiling. In fact by the time I get over the bridge, I’m laughing gleefully and giddily. This is so FUN! I see people in cars ahead and behind me tentatively reach their hand out the window too, still elbow-anchored, but it’s a start.
I am my own Chief Happiness Officer, and I’m spreading it one car at a time. It was brilliant. To be unself-conscious, to let myself be silly, be seen, to laugh at myself, to experience the world. The air.
My belly full of laughter at myself and the sensation and playfulness, thoughts pop in as I exit the highway past a Kaiser building. It wasn’t long ago that I was hermetically sealed myself in one of those buildings. Absent of fresh air, unable to touch this freedom.
It’s why it’s sometimes easier for me to take risks like this, to take the risk of having fun, for its own sake, with no stakes except silencing my internal critic. I did it because I can, because I saw a little girl earlier in the day hanging her whole head out the back window on the slow Berkeley streets, and she looked happy.
I looked happy then, too, in the grins and gawks of passing cars, my hand only beginning to chill as I pull to the stoplight toward home. I forget what silliness feels like, what glee is, how freeing it all is -- and how simple. I forget what it’s like to laugh infectiously and appreciatively at my own antics. Until I see you hanging your arm out a window, and I remember.