The Pursuit of Happiness


Marylou and Cookie were busy stroking witch-hazel across the flanks of a lamb.
They didn’t notice Topper and Bunyan and Egghead watching a platoon of tiny men
marching across the stunted grass.
You’re not allowed to go to the bathroom by yourself. You’re not allowed to chew
Bushy eyebrows are donated to the grandfather’s funeral fund.
Topper is really a miniature president, but a miniature president is not a king. It’s
delightful to meet a miniature president, but Topper’s been blown up and not as little as
you might think.
“Let’s church them now and be done with the heathens,” said Marylou.
Bunyan was watching the little men scuttle away like big men with their pants
down around their ankles. Their movements were more efficient than you might think.
Crab-like, orderly, persistent.
“I can’t do it, I can’t do it,” shouted Egghead. Then he said, “No, that’s wrong.
But I believed it for a moment.”
Then Cookie was altogether busy watching the pigs eat like pigs. “I don’t want
anything like that in my garden,” she said.
“I don’t see why it has to rain today.” I said that. I did. Because it looked like it
was going to do something in the sky. And here is an almost unnecessary sleepy little
nodkin operating like a foil that might have heard me say this only to verify that someone
might have heard me say this. I was unnamed and observatory. I was narrative. I was the
convenient conduit. I didn’t have to participate.
However, the same can not be said of you, although it’s probably foolish of me to
say it. Would you like to walk along the garden path or spit on the retreating snakes?
They will not harm you. They will not bite you with sharp painful teeth. No, they won’t.
And here is another sleepy little nodkin. He doesn’t need to verify anything
except the need to verify something. We’re all like that.
Quickly enough this life begins to grow darker and make the garden a more
interesting place. We might pass some women there eating sandwiches. We might
expand to accommodate the progress of the marching men. We might worship some
situations we don’t really understand. We might believe what we do is communal and
sweet and available to little men of any size. We might believe women of greater stature
can say things that men of great stature cannot. We might not be allowed to go to the
bathroom by ourselves. Might we be busy stroking witch-hazel across the flanks of a
And yet it might not even be our garden. It might not be our church.
We can vote for the president, but the president cannot vote for us.
The meadow is filled with clocks. Call them weeds if you must. Time lingers in
them, lingers enough to be measured by its not quite absence and the winter comes like a
wrist beneath their arrows when the grass has nothing left to say. The clocks begin
sleeping with their own little clocks turned towards tomorrow.
There’s no reason for this kind of happiness. You do it without knowing how.
That’s how.

Rich Ives is the author of Tunneling to the Moon: A Psychological Gardener’s Book of Days currently being published in serial @ Silenced Press everyday in 2014 and forthcoming in paperback. Begin from the beginning, catch up, read daily. Just refer to the Burrow Guide.