It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up,
something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.
But happiness floats.
It doesn’t need you to hold it down.
It doesn’t need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
and disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
and now live over a quarry of noise and dust
cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own,
it too could wake up filled with possibilities
of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
and love even the floor which needs to be swept,
the soiled linens and scratched records . . .
Since there is no place large enough
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,
and in that way, be known.
"So Much Happiness" from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye, copyright © 1995. Reprinted with the permission of Far Corner Books.
Now, dear, it isn’t the bold things, Great deeds of valour and might, That count the most in the summing up of life at the end of the day. But it is the doing of old things, Small acts that are just and right; And doing them over and over again, no matter what others say; In smiling at fate, when you want to cry, and in keeping at work when you want to play— Dear, those are the things that count. And, dear, it isn’t the new ways Where the wonder-seekers crowd That lead us into the land of content, or help us to find our own. But it is keeping to true ways, Though the music is not so loud, And there may be many a shadowed spot where we journey along alone; In flinging a prayer at the face of fear, and in changing into a song a groan— Dear, these are the things that count. My dear, it isn’t the loud part Of creeds that are pleasing to God, Not the chant of a prayer, or the hum of a hymn, or a jubilant shout or song. But it is the beautiful proud part Of walking with feet faith-shod; And in loving, loving, loving through all, no matter how things go wrong; In trusting ever, though dark the day, and in keeping your hope when the way seems long— Dear, these are the things that count.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on June 3, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.