According to Jodi Picoult in her novel Nineteen Minutes, happiness = reality divided by expectation. It's interesting to see a mathematical equation of sorts put to an emotion.
Today, when I was on the phone with a friend, she asked me if I was happy with my decision to "retire" from the classroom, move to the farm, take the next step in my relationship, and spend the majority of my time writing.
I didn't even have to think about it.
The reality of retiring from the classroom: I don't miss the long hours associated with the way I expected my classroom to work. As the head of the department, I had expectations that I wanted to implement, but the truth is, those expectations equaled long hours. And after awhile, I just got burnt out. Especially true after Patrick passed away. School and my close friends became my life, and eventually, I tired of being at work 24/7. And then, I met Scott.
The reality of moving to the farm: I help if he asks me; otherwise, it's just not my thing. (Except for driving the big tractor across the field. I kind of like that!) And he respects that. I use the wrong terminology most of the time. I think calf #763 has pretty, almond-shaped eyes. And it took me a bit of time to remember that we live 16 miles from town, so if I have to run errands, check the refrigerator before I go to make sure there is milk, bread, eggs, etc. because I'm not running back to town for one item. :) It's peaceful. It's quiet. And it's home. Plus, a beautiful Sandhills sunset adds to it!
The reality of the new relationship: This is the healthiest relationship I've ever had. There is mutual respect and understanding. We laugh at each other and with each other, but never in a mean or condescending way. We tackle obstacles together, which is the way it should be. Maybe it's because both of us finally grew up. The only thing I know is that he told me he "knew" from the moment we went out the first time that we would be together. And I have admitted to him, it took me about three weeks to realize it, but I can not imagine him not being a significant part of my life.
The reality of being a writer: It's hard work. Not the writing part; that comes naturally. It better; otherwise, I made a poor choice. My best friend keeps telling me I'm a good writer - I should do it for a living. The hard part is for people to realize that if I'm in the office, I am working; if the phone rings and an editor asks me to get to Lincoln within the next three hours and cover something, I go; if I send out 13 query letters, my chances for publication increase. And eventually, I'm going to hook the big one. And I'm not talking fish!
The reality is this: My expectations of all four elements, divided by reality, has produced happiness. What more can I ask for?