The other day, I discovered the keys to happiness. It is so simple. I can’t believe human beings spend so much effort running after all kinds of fancy baloney – big houses, fancy trips, terrific jobs– when all the time, the keys to happiness are right in front of our noses. Do good work. Eat good food. In good company.
On this day, Josephine, Ruby and I were home together. Josephine was puttering around the house, and offered to prepare lunch for us. While she was doing this, Ruby and I were outside, building the second Hugelkultur.
Building a Hugelkultur is good work in part because it is enjoyable (although it can get a bit tedious), but also because it takes a waste product (wood that is not good for building or burning) and puts it to good use (building up better soil, and sequestering carbon).
We had dug out its bed – about a foot deep, 6′ wide and 20′ long. On the bottom, we laid down large logs and stumps. We covered them with some compost and loam, and then we spent a lot of time working on the second layer of wood. This is where you take smaller branches, and you kind of weave and puzzle them together to make a dense, thick woody mat. While we were doing it, we both felt a very, very old part of our brain stir – we were good at weaving sticks into a mat, it came very naturally, and was very satisfying. Could it be a slumbering innate ability to build nests, a hold-over from, say, when our ancestor mini-mammals in the dinosaur age, were scurrying in the under-brush? Or from when our primate ancestors were building sleeping-nests in trees? We giggled at the thought, imagining the ancient primates and ourselves.
Then Josephine called us to lunch, which we had inside. It looked like it was going to be delicious! She had made refried beans with guacamole and fried eggs and it was all outside on the deck table. As I was taking off my boots, a Big Wave of Happiness flooded right over me. ZAPPO!! Holy canoli! This is the life!!! I was on cloud nine! It was an intense physical wave; it almost knocked me off my socks.
I was having a pretty nice time before, but what just happened?!
What happened was: a perfect confluence of the three keys to happiness – having done some good work outside, I was coming in to have some good food, in the very excellent company of my little tribe, Josephine and Ruby.
Imagine our ancestors on the African savannah — having done the good and hard work of gathering berries, making spears, or weaving together a bed of grass — a little band of people who are super-connected to each other comes together for a meal. Pleasure ensues. This would be one of the natural highlight of the days – and humans who would appreciate and seek this out, well, they would more likely be the ones to pass on those work-food-company appreciating genes.