Written by Jacob Ibrag
This morning my boss called me into her office and asked me if I was happy, if this is where I wanted to be. She didn’t seem angry; no it was more of an inquiring expression that painted her rosy cheeks. She couldn’t have been upset with me; her lazy like curly mane was dancing upon her shoulders. That’s how everyone in the office knew whether or not to approach her. If her hair was in bun, it was a clear sign to avoid interaction as much as possible. This was different; she was genuinely interested in knowing if I was happy. Connecting eyes with ease, I smiled and remained silent.
‘I’ll take that as a yes then?’ She asked smiling back.
Slowly panning from her eyes to the wall on my left, I noticed a painting of the golden gate bridge she had installed a couple of years back. I had never really looked at it before. I guess it was beautiful in a generic sort of way. I’ve seen this painting hundreds of times in passing, and yet this time I was drawn to it. Getting up from my chair, I walked over to the painting and looked back at her.
‘You know, my family is filled with morning runners. That’s just about the only thing we have in common with each other. We’re all absolutely different in every other way. My older brother Josh, just your average jock living in the memories of his golden years with a heart of gold to boot. My father, a respected rabbi in our community and my mother; an atheist and popular vlogger that’s bent on disproving everything associated with religion.’ I said chuckling. ‘But we all run in the morning, collectively and yet separately.’
‘And you run on the bridge,’ she confirmed.
‘Yea. Every morning at five, all nine thousand and some odd feet and this morning wasn’t supposed to be any different.’ I said.
‘And today it was? Didn’t see anything in the news about the bridge this morning.’ She replied.
‘The bridge was calm and silent, just the way I’m used to it being. Encapsulated, I ran through and with the fog, not thinking about a thing. And that’s what running is for me, an opportunity to disconnect from it all and just move forward. Slowing down to a jog as I approached the half way point, I saw something by the side of the bridge. Getting a little closer, I realized that there was a person standing tall on the ledge. An older woman, her eyes shut and head tilted to the sky with her arms stretching from side to side. Afraid to startle her, I kept my pace and tried to move in closer without making much sound.’
‘My God, tell me you tried calling the police.’ She replied in shock.
‘It was honestly out of my mind at the time. Finally near the edge, I decided climb the guard rail and stand next to her. With her eyes still closed, she started to speak without acknowledging me. And as I listened to her voice, I grew calm,’ I said.
‘What did she say to you?’ She replied immediately.
‘I must’ve been up there for about an hour. She talked about her life and the experiences that married her growing existence.’
Walking back to my chair, I sat down again and looked at one of the many pictures of my boss and her kids.
‘She talked to me about how at least once a year she tried to visit the middle of the bridge to look upon the Pacific and put life into perspective. It was usually when something really good or bad happened, this time it was the birth of her granddaughter Leslie and the passing of her childhood friend. Standing on the edge of the bridge served as a reminder that life is anything but forever, that at any given moment it could all be taken from you because this life was never ours to keep. Happiness is fleeting, but awareness of self is absolute. She urged me to appreciate the everyday mundane moments and to smile as much as I could. The person I stood next this morning wasn’t sad at all, she was celebrating.’
Turning my attention back to my boss, we linked eyes once again.
‘You want to know if I’m happy? I know I don’t want to drown in an ocean of what if’s or reminisce on what used to be. We share this air for a moment, and sometimes a moment is more than enough. I have an opportunity to be aware, and if that isn’t happiness, I don’t what is.’