Catching of happiness

Catching of happiness

Tightly-folded bud,
I have wished you something
None of the others would:
Not the usual stuff
About being beautiful,
Or running off a spring
Of innocence and love –
They will all wish you that,
And should it prove possible,
Well, you’re a lucky girl.

But if it shouldn’t, then
May you be ordinary;
Have, like other women,
An average of talents:
Not ugly, not good-looking,
Nothing uncustomary
To pull you off your balance,
That, unworkable itself,
Stops all the rest from working.
In fact, may you be dull –
If that is what a skilled,
Vigilant, flexible,
Unemphasised, enthralled
Catching of happiness is called.

—Philip Larkin, “Born Yesterday

I was riding the subway at night. I looked up to see a man with his hands on the shoulders of a blow-up Superman doll. Standing there. Just passengers. Standing in the aisle between the orange seats because there was no place to sit for man and his Superman. I kept looking at the man because I found it odd that Superman’s man had to hold on just like everyone else. And further that Superman was riding the F train just like everyone else.

We rode along like that. Man, Superman, and me. There were a lot of other people. Everyone staring straight ahead. And when the train stopped, the Superman’s man looked around. He asked directions just like every other New Yorker. Someone pointed the way, staring past Superman. Man and Superman were just New Yorkers after all.

That thousands of New Yorkers can peacefully ride a train in one direction, keeping quiet, being loud, neatly folding the Times, keeping hands folded, communicating AT ALL as we barrel forward in a zillion directions, treating all humans like the super people we are, is a tiny pony. The potential for catching of happiness.

I am no expert, but I might guess that doing being ordinary is when tiny ponies appear.