Monday, July 19, 2010

DESTINATION: HAPPY PLACE

"Happiness comes when your work and words are of benefit to yourself and others." ~Buddha

This picture was taken of me years ago at Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii. My temporary happy place. Back then, I believed I needed a magical setting to see magic in the world. When I sat atop that wall I had a view of everything and nothing. I didn't know what I was doing with my life. I felt lost, and didn't know where I was heading, but I knew how to escape.

Above that stone wall was a cerulean sky, where angels hid in fluffy clouds. If you listened hard enough--when your ears expanded beyond the crashing of waves below--you could hear the swishing of grass skirts as some cherubs played leapfrog over a rainbow, while others kept storms calm by serenading them with ukulele music.
The wall overlooked aquamarine waters where dolphins danced during every sunrise and sang at every sunset--while deep below the surface, mermaids and selkies applauded them.
In the not-so-far distance stood an emerald mountain where--when the sunlight hit just right--you could see the sparkle of fairy wings flitting among the palm tress.

I created endless stories as I sat on that wall, yet I had no idea I was a storyteller. I had written, but I didn't know I was a writer.

I thought it was the place that made me happy: the island breezes, the aloha spirit, the ebb and flow of the ocean. But it wasn't the place; it was the stillness and excitement, the wonder and beauty, the unpredictable details and infinite possibilities. The feeling of living my story, which consisted of imagining fantastical new ones.

No matter how congested and busy life gets, no matter how many wrong paths I wander down, no matter how many road blocks or dead-ends I encounter, I now know the way back. Back to Happy Island. I can't get there by car, boat, or airplane; all I need is my imagination (but a pen or laptop comes in handy too).

My happy place is writing. Creating stories where my characters can be the people I am not, or parts of who I am. Where I get to paint a picture of how I wish the world could be, or erase the ugliness I wish I'd never seen.

I have finally figured out my role in my own story called life. I am a storyteller. And whether or not a hero ever rides in on his white horse, no matter how drastically my character arc changes, however many plot holes I may stumble into, I know the secret of every book is to keep turning the page. Keep going. Keep believing. Happy is a feeling, it's not a place.

My happiness is writing, creating, storytelling.
As long as I can do that, I am living my happily ever after.

What about you? Have you found your happy place? Or are you still searching?

37 comments:

  1. Happy Island, I love that... it sounds so much cooler than Happy Place. I love to feel the breeze of the ocean hit my face, hearing the waves crashing against one another, there is something just beautiful about that. Thank you for taking me back to Happy Island!

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  2. Creativity is definitely my happy place. That includes writing, but so much more. I love to think of new things, new ideas, new projects.

    (and I love, love the picture!)

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  3. Karen, this post made me tear up. Your words are inspiring. Writing is such a release. I wouldn't know what to do with my life if I didn't write.


    Thanks for writing this post.

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  4. Awww! I love this. I have a few happy places, actually. *grin*
    Love that pic! Your hair, your body, just beautiful!

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  5. Great picture and post. To be honest, I'm forever searching. My father was the same way his whole life, which something I fear I've inherited.

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  6. Great post, and awesome picture. My happy place is usually whenever I'm playing with my sons. I suppose it ought to be when I'm writing, but there's nothing I love more than being around when my boys are laughing and having a good time. When they're grown and on their way, then I'll probably find my happy place in writing.

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  7. Beautiful post, Karen. I have my own happy physical place, the complete opposite of yours: a river nestled deep in the Appalachian Mountains, always cold and clear and bright, thousands of acres of wild forest all around me. It gives me chills to think about it, and even though it's been several years since I visited, I don't think I'll ever forget it.

    Like yours, it instantly conjures dozens of images and ideas and associations--the deep well of my creative spirit, I guess.

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  8. I think places like this help in the release... but our soul is where the truly happy place is if we can just manage to open it up

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  9. You're right. Happiness isn't a place, it's state of mind. For me, I am happiest when I feel connected to something bigger and more eternal than myself. Writing, drawing and painting are the things that plug me in to the Divine Universe. - G

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  10. That was beautifully written, Ms. Writer.
    I've come to think, as you do, that we have to love the storytelling (not the idea of being published) for our work to weave magic, and I've no doubt that you are.
    Your opening quote reminds of one by Nelson Mandela that I've stuck in front of me: "Your playing small does not serve the world."
    Love that photo and your happiness.

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  11. I have found over the years that my happy place changes, in fact, it can change from day to day. Great photo.

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  12. I'm happiest being near water. There is something about water's presence that helps fuel my creativity. I love the way it sounds when it is alive and moving, but there is something calming and peaceful about still water, too.

    Hmmmmm... actually, I might be happier actually being in water. Not sure if that helps with my writing or not, but it feels as close to flying as I can get without any equipment or vehicle.

    Your happy place in the picture looks fantastic. :)

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  13. Well said! For me the happiest place is within - in the void of existence - it can be easy to lose hold of though sometimes.

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  14. Oh, no no no. You said this too beautifully for me to try to express it in other words.

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  15. That picture is fantastic! It's inspiring all by itself.
    I agree. Writing is my happy place, outside of my family. It's what I do for me, and I love it!

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  16. First, I have a special place in my heart for Hawaii. Love the Big Island. And yes, I think I have found my happy place in my writing. Hawaii doesn't hurt either. ;)

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  17. Wow! I heart that pic! My happy place is writing, reading, and teaching. (And being a wife and mommy...most of the time). :)

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  18. What a beautiful picture! Isn't it funny that we can find our happy places in the simplest of places. :)

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  19. Beautifully expressed. Thank you for sharing this with us. You're so right... happiness a place, not a destination.

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  20. Amazing post. Amazing happy place.

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  21. Yes yes yes!! So beautiful, Karen. A truly inspirational post. Can I join you in your happy place? I'll bring drinks ;) <3 <3

    That's the most perfect picture for you. I hope when your book publishes, that you do an author photo for the jacket just like that.

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  22. AHH! Blogger just ate my comment!

    What I said was, yeah, I have a few happy places and writing is one of them :)

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  23. YES! I have a few happy places. Being with my kids and husband is one. Writing is one. REading is one. And journalling and spending time with God is another.

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  24. I lost my happy place, if that is possible, but I'm looking for a new one. Don't worry it sounds a lot worse than it is. And also I have an award for you at my blog.

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  25. Beautiful picture, Karen! My happy place is at our cabin. I don't have to keep it perfect...no one cares...it's a trailer from the early 80's. It's smaller than the main level of our home, nothing matches, but we are all soooo relaxed there. We just hang out at the cabin or on the lake...Life's good and we're heading back there soon. :)

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  26. Wonderful post. My happy place is in my own little world where my settings form and characters develope.

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  27. Karen--You won a random daily prize over at my random blog party!

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  28. great post and great picture!! this is making me wonder what my happy place is now...hmm

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  29. My happy place is in English, the whole process, writing it, editing it, revising it, helping others with it, and reading it. I used to think it was just the writing, but in the last 3years I have found I am most happy when I do any of it, doesn't matter which parts, and I feel proud of myself when I'm done.

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  30. Ah, more and more as time goes by, I know my happy place is right here where I am, but only when I am taking everything in thirstily, and putting everything out again in my writing. If I shut out the world, and shut myself up, I get unhappy pretty quickly.

    There are two happy places for me out there, though -- one in northeast Pennsylvania, where I spent many summers and wrote most of my books. The smell of the pine trees, the beautiful lake and waterfall, the slower pace, and the good friends who live there. The other happy place was when I was flying my airplane, but I sold it and haven't flown in a while. Being above the earth, where I could pretend I was just visiting, was supreme happiness!

    Beautiful post, Karen. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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  31. Great post.

    I have lots of happy places. They're often places with sun and tall trees. Looking at things like that makes me happy.

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  32. Hi there!

    Shortstorybook.net is organizing a short story writing contest.

    We do think that you too might have a marvelous story to tell, one that is your own! So if you can compose it in not more than few words, we would want to hear from you. Also, you stand a chance to get your story published on our site and win cash prize of USD 100.

    “Then what are you waiting for? …put on your thinking cap and get writing. For registration and other information check - http://bit.ly/short-story-contest-2010

    Happy writing!

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  33. I have 2 happy places: writing and playing music :)

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  34. My happy place is a quietly creating mind.

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  35. Oh, just lovely, good lady. Beautifully done!

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  36. I'm with you on this . . . writing is definitely a lovely escape. Also: lying in the sun, laughing with friends, and sometimes red wine, haha!

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  37. Happy is a feeling, it's not a place.. .... . . . so true.

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