Tag Archives: Happiness

Your one wild and precious life


With deep gratitude to the participants of Geography of Now.

There’s a voice
in our heads,
a nasty piece of work,
that says:
“Don’t you dare”
“You’ll fail”
“You’ll look foolish”
“People will think
you’re too big
for your britches.”

If you let that voice tell you how to live
you condemn yourself
to a life of

An existence
rather than
a life.

{People will judge you
no matter what you do
but that is none of your business.}

So what have you
been dreaming of?

What’s the first step
to creating it?

And how would it feel
to silence that voice
with extravagant happiness?

*The phrase “your one wild and precious life” comes from Mary Oliver’s poem The Summer Day.


Japanese word for celebration


Laughter rolls
down the street
ahead of them
like marbles.

People step out
of the way,
to make room
for such joy.

We two
quietly yearn
to join the celebration,
this particular way
of being happy
in the company
of others.

and careless.

Red balloon days.

{The Japanese word for celebration is shukugakai.}

What I think about when I go walking in the rain

1. All lives are interesting when the person describing that life is a good story teller.
2. Autumn has arrived in Yokohama. I know this because stripey knit sweaters are now being displayed in the front windows of the Gap.
3. The rain makes everything seem more cinematic. If I were a film director, I would shoot a lot of scenes in the rain.
4. According to comedian Louis C.K., we live in a time when “everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy.” That’s probably how the Romans felt too. I am voting for contentment.

Following happiness home

what is it about friday afternoon
that makes us giddy?
i love my work
(even when it’s exhausting…
all good things are, sometimes)
but friday afternoons
leave me effervescent,
light and fizzy
like a pink drink with an umbrella
sipped on a beach.

it’s the promise
of all that freedom.
48 hours
of exactly what i choose
and nothing else.


these two school girls
in their navy uniforms
and i walked home
from school.
(our students don’t wear uniforms.
i wonder what it’s like.)
they walked very close
to each other
merging their selves
like girls do when we love.
as we neared the park,
the girls began to run.
my heart jumped
and wanted to follow.

in the park
a tiny two-year old in a purple dress
with white polka dots
stared at a small bush
as if it were
a work of art.
(it is.)
she leaned towards it
and whispered.
{oh, how i wish
i understood japanese.}

two teachers
and ten small students
skipped rope on the grass
outside the escalator.
they sang while they skipped.
skip. skip. skip.

outside the daycare,
two women pushed six toddlers
in a trolley
(the kind normally used
for delivering mail
in offices too big
to know everyone’s name.)
the wee ones,
dressed in pastels
like easter eggs,
were standing up in the trolley,
looking about and laughing.
their giggles made me laugh
and also
the girl just ahead of me.
as we rode down in the escalator,
she kept turning around
to look at the babies.
the girl wore small, round glasses
and she seemed especially smart.
at the ground floor
she tore off to catch her train
to the neon city.

at the exit
onto motomachi shopping street
a boy and a girl held up their hands
to the sky.
it was raining
confident, plump drops
and the pair seemed delighted
at this sudden change
in the weather.

crossing the street
i fell into step
behind a tall teenage boy
in a red baseball cap.
he was nodding his head
to the music from his ipod.
by the time we reached
the red light
head nodding
had turned to dancing.
(this kid had swag.)
the japanese people
moved back slightly,
surprised at this sudden outburst
of joy
at street level.

he crossed the street
i followed him
dancing in my own way.
happy in my own way
on a friday afternoon.