As an adult, there have been times when I have said to myself, “This is such a wonderful moment. I don’t ever want to forget it.” At those times, I take a mental snapshot of that moment and commit myself to remembering it. As I write this, several of those moments come to mind; but one of my happiest memories is of at day in my life that happened when I was too young to be introspective. I simply remember it because of the total happiness I felt.
In the greater scheme of things, that day was not that special. It was our second grade class picnic day. I recall that we wore play clothes. That would mean pants for little girls when in those days we were required to wear dresses on regular school days. We each took a sack lunch and we were taken by bus to a local park where we played. On the way home, I got off the bus at a corner a block from my home and a few blocks before the bus reached the school. Nobody was home when I got there, so I decided to clean up the living room to surprise my mommy. Those are the unremarkable details of that memorable day.
So why do I remember that day so much better and more fondly than the many other days of my childhood? When I think about it now as an adult, I can be introspective about it and understand some reasons why it was so special to me.
First, on that day I overcame fear and truly enjoyed playing at the park. Before the day was out, I was confident about climbing to the heights of the sliding board and soaring down and about swinging high on the huge swings—two things I had always been timid about before. Because of my new confidence and my ability to do what the other children were doing, I had acceptance from them. When my teacher told the bus driver to let me off near my home I experienced the respect of her knowing I was self-reliant enough to go home alone. When I got home, I made myself useful by cleaning the living room and consequently received something all children covet, my mother’s praise.
Those were the simple elements that made me happy on that bright day sixty years ago. I believe those are pretty much the same things that make me happy today.