It took me until my mid-30s to come to this realization, but a short time ago, I realized that happiness is a choice.
Now let me explain. I am not a hippy dippy dopey faux hippy confusing a good high with happiness. Nor am I on an industrial strength supply of lithium. What I have come to understand is that in any given day there will be highs and lows...you may be pissed off or sad...someone may hurt you or you may have done something not so smart that hurt yourself...but even in those places of hurt, sadness, pain, or confusion...you can choose joy.
Sound like a contradiction? Nah...stick with me here.
Today, I had a moment with a fucked up racist Russian bank teller at my bank. I have been going to this same credit union branch since I moved to NYC. Before today, I never had a problem. Sometimes my checks are written out to my legal name, William Brandon Lacy, and sometimes the checks are made out to Brandon Lacy Campos. My ID says William Brandon Lacy on it, but in the past, the fact that my ID has Brandon Lacy on it, as long as the check was written to William Lacy, William B. Lacy, William Brandon Lacy, Brandon Lacy or Brandon Lacy Campos...the good tellers have realized that golly gee two of the three names on the check were the same, so gosh...there isn't anything shady going on.
Enter Sister Mary Gulag of Bitchskaya, Siberia. The women looked at me, looked at the check, and said..."this isn't you."
I said, politely, "Excuse me m'am, but do you not see the names Brandon Lacy on the idea and the check."
"Yes, but there is no Campos."
So I reply, "M'am...I have two last names...one just happens to not be on my ID. But, as you can see, Brandon and Lacy are on the check and ID."
"Yes but this isn't you."
And she gave me a look that basically made me want to punch a hole through the Plexi-glass and scoop her eye out of her socket.
And then came the coup de grace when she said, "You can mail it to your bank and see if THEY will deposit it."
Only by the Grace of God did that woman not get a free trip back across the Ural Mountains on Foot in the Ass Airlines.
So I said, "I will be back with the check re-written."
And she gave me a smile that basically said, "Sure nigger. Next!"
That's when I made a choice.
You see up until that point in my day, my day had gone so super well. I'd spent the night at Keith's spot. I walked home, and we had a great workout at the gym. Well, by great I mean that I did some cardio before sprinting to the office to get a report into the Drug Policy Alliance. I'd made plans to meet back up with Keith to finish my workout that afternoon, and I had already decided that I was going to treat myself to my favorite dish at Pam's Real Thai on 49th Street (the crispy pork with basil will change your life).
I actually love going into the office, because I get to work hand in hand with amazing interns, the brilliant and sexy Amber Hollibaugh and Jay Toole...and every day is a day closer to July 19th when my poetry collection It Ain't Truth If It Doesn't Hurt comes out.
So as I was walking out of the bank back to the office to get Amber to re-write my check, and I was contemplating if my Chuck Norris skills were tight enough that I could kick through the Plexiglass to exact my ninja revenge on said Wicked Witch of Far East, I realized that I had just given this Creature of Darkness way too much power over me.
So I chose happiness.
The minute I put on my headphones and put on "Happiness" by Alexis Jordan...I found myself back in that joy spot. Can't no body take away that place of joy except me. I have mad skills and many years of emptying my joy tank, but I have been working too damn hard to fill it to let ANYONE empty it. If what you are bringing me is your hurt and trying to make me feel what you are feeling, if you bring me your anger and try to raise mine, if you bring me your pain and try to make me feel it, if you bring me your sadness and try to make me cry, do not be offended when I say to you, "Find your joy."
I found mine, and I am keeping it.