I was walking out of a restaurant last week when I ran into a couple I know but not very well. Both people in this couple work in a high-stress environment. After speaking with them for a while, the man said, “You are always so happy. You should come and just sit in my office during the day.”
Stunned, I laughed . . . reinforcing his theory.
It’s not that I don’t want to be labeled “happy.” I was just surprised. I come from a long line of stoic and dry-witted people. They were/are journalists, authors, educators, students, depression era farmers — serious, thoughtful people. Funny, yes. Happy, yes — but not the sort of people you might walk away from saying, “There goes one happy, happy group!” I think you’d walk away from my ancestors saying, “Huh. Those people are smart. A little odd . . . but very smart.”
Do you see what I mean? The reaction of the man I ran into was completely foreign to me. It seems I equate happy people with a lack of seriousness or intellect, but I know the conversation we were having was both serious and intellectual. AND days later I am still thinking about this. Only a serious and intellectual person would do that, right?
I’m not going back to this man to ask, “What did you mean by calling me happy?” I’ve come up with a few of my own answers:
1. Did he mean I am optimistic? Because in spite of identifying with Eeyore more than Pooh, I do think I am optimistic. My hardy ancestors were Tim Gunn sort of people. They made it work.
2. Did he mean I can find humor in any situation? I can. Remember when my friend Faith told me the story of being bonked on the head by the local priest because she was a “non-catholic?” Nearly peed in my pants during that funeral.
3. Is it true that I am just plain happy? I need to think more on that one.
4. Psalm 118:24