Tuesday, January 17, 2012

On happiness

Candles - All Pretty Things

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. ~ The Buddha

One of the first realizations I made when we crossed the ocean is somewhat related to the quote above.

I do recall very vividly the first few days of our Canadian life. Here I was, a young girl, just married a year before (and still working on figuring out this complex idea of relationship), thousands of kms away from everything familiar. You have to take in account a few details to understand (or imagine) the immensity of the moment: I grew up in a small city where everyone knew everyone, I have never been outside the country prior to our flight to Toronto, and I have never took English classes (I learned Russian in school, which I promptly forgot as soon as high-school ended; French and German). And here I was - landed after a day of traveling, in the middle of a very hot summer... when the airport doors opened to the real world outside and I breathed in all 37 degrees C (99 F... it was 9pm) with what seemed like 200% humidity I had a moment of sheer panic: what am I going to do? Not we, I wasn't very used to the 'we' yet... what am I going to do? I have no job, no friends (except for the couple waiting for us, former university colleagues, I knew nobody here), no language... OMG!

I couldn't simply turn back and go... where? So I breathed in and told myself, like a true Scarlett O'Hara: I'll think about this tomorrow.

The next days we took long walks through the city and I still remember one thing: I couldn't stop smiling! I even started to say 'hi!' to complete strangers! You know what? People smiled back - and they answered 'hi!' back.

That's my memory of our arrival in this country: pure happiness.

During a conversation with new acquaintances (friends of our friends) I was surprised to hear from them that people in Toronto are grumpy. Huh? My Toronto had only friendly and smiley people. The Torontonians don't like our accent. Huh? I could barely talk (I wrote and read splendidly... pronunciation was - like a friend put it: you sound like a French who speaks English with German accent!) but everywhere I turned people will repeat once or twice if I didn't understand, and they'll do it slowly, without being bothered.

I sat down that evening and asked myself - what is the difference between my Toronto and their Toronto? Obviously not the city and its inhabitants... they were the same. And it downed on me: it was us! We (my DH and I) were not only open, we were simply happy and sharing our happiness. And we were getting happiness in return.

That's a lesson I never forgot. That's when I realized there is only one way to live your life: being happy and grateful. And happiness is not only shared - it is also a personal choice: comes from within and you have full control over it!

Today - make the choice: be happy! Smile to a stranger and say 'hi'.


  1. I envy your courage. Moving to a foriegn country and starting a new life.You seem to have adjusted very well.
    I am so glad I met you and your family at the trapshoot.You are a very lovely and interesting person (and a loyal customer). I hope to be able to get to know you and Florin better as the years pass.
    Lets try for a family photo this year so you can post it to your blog!

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Joe; we are happy to have met you too - always looking forward to our summer trips to Marengo and your cheerful smile!
      Yes - this year we'll certainly have time for that portrait.


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