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Lyrics and Life

 

By Caitlin Ward

04/01/2015

Happy
Pharrell Williams

It might seem crazy what I’m about to say
Sunshine she’s here, you can take a break
I’m a hot air balloon, I could go to space
With the air, like I don’t care baby by the way

CHORUS

Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do

Here come bad news talking this and that
Yeah, give me all you got, don’t hold back
Yeah, well I should probably warn you I’ll be just fine
Yeah, no offence to you don’t waste your time
Here’s why

CHORUS

Happy, bring me down
Can’t nothing, bring me down
Love is too happy to bring me down
Can’t nothing, bring me down
I said bring me down
Can’t nothing, bring me down
Love is too happy to bring me down
Can’t nothing, bring me down
I said

CHORUS (x2)

Happy, bring me down
Can’t nothing, bring me down
Love is too happy to bring me down
Can’t nothing, bring me down
I said

CHORUS (x2)

Written by Pharrell Williams. © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Songs Music Publishing

So I’ve been thinking about this piety business again, as Lent draws closer to Holy Week, and Triduum. I’ll be honest: I’ve kind of fallen down on the fasting side. Instead of giving something up entirely, I decided I would try to reduce my consumption of certain things. I figured it would force me to practise mindfulness.

Let me tell you, mindfulness goes right out the window when you’re stressed. I’d like to say I have enough discipline to practise it even in the most difficult circumstances, but I am no contemplative. One fight with the Canadian Consulate in the Dominican Republic, and suddenly I’m eating granola bars over the sink and veggie burgers in the car instead of buying groceries. I’m watching Netflix half-asleep instead of reading books. I’m picking single socks out of the laundry basket instead of pairing them and putting them away. Mindfulness? Mindfulness is for the birds!

Well, perhaps not. But I’ll be honest — this lenten season has been a test of my patience and my goodwill on a variety of fronts. I suppose, whether self-imposed or brought on by the vagaries of the universe, being tested is rather the point of Lent. It’s meant to mirror Christ’s fast in the desert. Of course, I’m not going to pretend it’s been anything like Christ’s 40 days, but then, I’m no Son of God, so let’s not pretend I could ever take as much as he could, anyway. I’m a little too human.

So yeah. If you’re keeping track, I’m no contemplative, and I’m no Son of God. And thus for me, at least, the practice of Lent has been a little all over the place this year. I’m not sure I can say I’ve fasted in any meaningful way.

That said, I think it’s easy to get hung up on the fasting aspect of Lent. I know people who aren’t even Christian who give things up for these 40 days. Why they would, I’m not sure, but hey, I’m not going to judge. Maybe they feel left out; fasting is kind of the most famous thing about Lent. Now, I don’t mean that in the sense that fasting isn’t important, or that we oughtn’t to do it, but rather that fasting is only one part of lenten observance. Prayerfulness and almsgiving often take a bit of a backseat.

So, even though I am neither a contemplative nor divine, I’m feeling OK about the other aspects of my lenten observance. Increasing the amount I pray has been made infinitely easier by the advent of prayer-related apps for my Android. Handheld technology might be wreaking havoc on the socialization of our children, but it is truly doing wonders for the amount of Scripture I read every day. As for almsgiving, well, I hear that your left hand shouldn’t know what your right hand is doing, so I’ll leave it at that.

Perhaps because I am not doing so well at the more well-practised aspect of lenten observance, I’ve been thinking about our tendency to focus on fasting. I wonder if, in some ways, it’s the easiest part of lenten observance. Doing without meat, or alcohol, or coffee, or chocolate, or leavening were all things I got used to, eventually. Some of them I stuck with more long-term because they weren’t actually that difficult to maintain — I’m a vegetarian now, for example, and 99.5 per cent of the time I do not miss meat at all.

On the other hand, to take active steps to increase the amount of prayer in our life or give up time or money for the sake of giving alms can be a lot more difficult to practice. Rather than giving things, these aspects of lenten observance are more likely to ask us to give parts of ourselves.

I’m not meaning to be self-aggrandizing in talking about these things like this; rather, I’m realizing that this is the first year I’ve made a real effort to focus on more than one aspect of this observance. Despite how frustrating these 40 days have been in some ways, I think I am richer for devoting more time and energy to these two other aspects. There is a kind of spiritual contentment that comes from it that I’ve never experienced from fasting. It’s a love that expands and, if done with a purity of intention, touches other people. It’s a happiness that is more than happiness. It’s joy.

Ward is a Saskatoon-based freelance writer who spends her days (and most nights) working at a small Catholic college. Her less eloquent thoughts can be found at www.twitter.com/newsetofstrings