The wind whipped through the open car windows as I sped up the car. The rusted stoplight was the only thing between me and the park and for once, it was actually green. As I pulled into the lot and threw the car into park. I sat for a few moments in silence, listening. Under the rumble of the engine, I heard kids near the jungle gym yelling and laughing, skateboards thumping over the sidewalk cracks, car doors slamming, and drones buzzing in the air.
Even though it was lively, it wasn’t anything but an ordinary park with a jungle gym, a baseball field, and soccer fields scattered about. For a Monday night, it was pretty packed though. Most likely due to the hint of a long overdue spring day in the air.
I turned the engine off, got out of the car, and began my short little walk to “the spot”. “The spot” being the end of a rickety bleacher on the farthest baseball field. It’s nestled along the edge of the trees and brush that separated the park from the golf course. It must have been my lucky day for when I rounded the corner, “the spot” was clear of the bustling crowds.
The bleacher creaked as I climbed to the top row and plopped down, letting my feet dangle beneath me. I craned my neck back to the sky and closed my eyes. Letting the warmth of the evening sun spill over me.
I remembered the first time I found “the spot”. I was in middle school and just had a fight with my parents and I needed to cool down a bit. I jumped on my bike and made my way through the winding bike paths at max speed. Letting the anger course through my blood and pour into my feet as they furiously peddled the bike forward. I went as far as the path would let me and right at the end of it was the old bleacher at the last baseball field.
The path unceremoniously cut off right before the brush and I came to a screeching halt. I tossed my bike into the grass, huffing and puffing until I calmed down enough to sit down on the bleachers. When I leaned back and looked towards the sky, the sun peaked out from under a cloud and the sun’s rays filled my eyes. I closed them and felt the rush of warmth across my already heated face, but yet it felt so soothing.
The anger used to boil inside of me like a pot on the stove, and with just one wrong move, I would erupt. It used to be the way I dealt with the world when I felt it collapsing in on me. My mind tended to swallow me up in the thoughts of imperfections, germs, and not living up to the expectations put upon me. In my mind, I lived in a world that I had no place in. A square peg in a round hole.
I always compared my soul to that of a hot air balloon. How rare they fly across the sky these days, but it always seemed to fit. The hot air is produced by the flame and collected in the balloon which makes it push upwards towards the sky. The warm air trying desperately to escape from the constraints of the fabric, but never does. That’s like my soul, trapped in a body with nowhere to go. I can feel it pushing and shoving inside of me in desperation until all I can do is scream.
But in that spot. On that little rusted bench, leaning back into the sunlight. I no longer feel the struggle of being trapped in a body and world that doesn’t understand that my imperfect soul is the pearl of my being. That I do not pretend to be perfect, but try my best to do right. That I am kind by nature, but refuse to walk on eggshells for those who do not understand the reality of being a human being. That I am happy, but sometimes have those moments of sadness.
The sun’s ray’s melt into my skin and comfort the agitated ambiance inside. Like a little reminder that happiness can be hard to find sometimes, but is always there, lying in the crevasses of life. Like the sun on your face, the smell of fresh air, the soft rustle of trees in the breeze, the taste of crisp, cold water, and watching a child score their very first soccer goal.
Those little moments while sitting in “the spot” always brought me back and reminded me that the goal of life is not to become happy, but to choose to be happy. Even if the only source of your happiness that day is the rusted old stoplight was, for once, green upon your arrival and your favorite spot was open. Happiness is a choice. So pull out that saw and hammer and start building that square hole for your square peg soul, because the world isn’t going to do it for you.