In Search of The Sixth Happiness
S. K. Watts 2014
I have very fond memories of being a child and allowed to stay up late on Saturday nights and watch movies…and yes, we are talking about the ones that once upon a time were in black and white! One of my favorite of these was the film The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, starring Ingrid Bergman. It was based upon the life and time of Gladys Aylward, an English woman who knew in her heart somehow that she belonged in China despite having never been there and repeatedly told she would be considered ‘unqualified’ as a missionary. Tenacity and courage would trump protocol and experience, and as a result, many lives were touched forever by her selflessness and compassion. Only recently have I come to understand how the story of Gladys Aylward has touched my own life throughout the years, even though movies are now streamed and too many people believe films in black and white are pure fiction.
For what is true magick if not something that creates a change in yourself as well as others around you? Memories might even be the little tidbits that glue the magickal thoughts together.
It was the missionary Gladys managed to find, Jennie Lawson, who ran a mission that doubled as a stopover for the traveling mule trains and who explained (at least for the sake of the movie) the meaning of the ‘Sixth Happiness’. Five of them are named: “Good Health, Prosperity, Virtue, Long Life and a Peaceful Death in old age”. (1) When asked what is the ‘sixth happiness’, Gladys is informed that “That you will find out for yourself, each person decides in their own heart what the Sixth Happiness is.” (2)
A very dusty synapse that perches fearfully near forgetfulness has reminded me every decade that I had yet to identify that Sixth Happiness for myself. Having always considered my life a ‘work in progress’, I apparently (and mistakenly) thought that someone sometime after my own passing would decide what that must have been for me, just as we all were left to decide Gladys’s final choice for ourselves. It has only been recently that I have come to the conclusion it would be best to identify and embrace whatever my own choice of this final happiness is to be. Let’s face facts, we aren’t getting any younger and time really does seem to move faster as we progress onward. So I just most recently did.
I have to say in all honesty that I still haven’t given up on all those things we decided as children were important enough to fill those coveted six slots. Even though those sands through the hourglass have seemed to scurry to diminish more quickly, believing in reincarnation has increased my odds. The sixth happiness turned out to be the easiest one of them all in the end. The other four turned out to need just a bit of tweaking. Anyway, For me they were/are:
1st. Finding Mr. Perfect. I think we can scratch that one out for me, and I am okay with that. I will meet my life’s partner in the next one.
2nd. Being nominated for the Nobel Peace Price. Doubtful. But I am only 62 years young, so you never know. Ha ha!
3rd. Having a work of art hanging in the Louvre for a hundred years after I was gone. Please note, I haven’t given up on this one yet. I will however, settle for one hung in the MOMA.
4th. Writing a best selling novel. Ditto here too. It will take working with my writing partner, but all good things come to those who get going and make it happen.
5th. Becoming an angel at some point. Hopefully after having lived to be 100 years old. I made a directional change in later years; I wish to achieve Enlightenment. Wings would probably not become me anyway.
6th. I didn’t have that one figured out even though I thought I knew what I wanted without doubt. Who knew? I do now, and that is all that matters.
The further we grew away from our precious innocence, the more excuses we made why we couldn’t have what we desired when our hearts were young and excited about each and every new day. Why is that do you think?
Quick! Without leaning on the state of the economy of an excuse, all the things that went wrong in your life, the fact there are never enough hours in any given day, all the time wasted on whose responsibility the fact you didn’t fulfill your list was, or any other reason time and resources were squandered on those who did not deserve your blessings…name one reason why you couldn’t now spend five minutes in each day doing reaching for what it is you still want, need, and desire?
I couldn’t this week, even though I wasted much of my life doing so. But I did come up with the following few reasons why I could still accomplish some of my childhood dreams, so perhaps that will achieve some of the balance we all seek.
Visualization is free. Call it day dreaming if it makes you feel better. But carry it to the next level and map out a way to get there…
What you think you really do create; work with quantum physics, not against them. If you stand still and not move with the Universe, you will gather dust.
Remembering what brings you and those around joy and happiness is a responsibility you owe yourself and others, not something that only happens twice a year. If you can’t find twenty minutes a day to change the world, then you need to begin with your own.
We are allowed to make time for ourselves without guilt, and making time and sharing what is important to us with each other is also passing on blessings…the whole reason we are supposed to be learning the right lessons in life anyway. They may not like what it is you are sharing, but should at least appreciate the fact you thought enough of them to do so. Right? And yes, children and significant others should come first, but should also understand that just like them, there must be others in your world as well if you are to grow.
If you don’t take a stand to create change, who will? Those who won’t usually fall away from your life tribe; those who do will follow you to the very end.
And lastly, and most importantly, figure out who in your world you love and are your family. For many, as it turns out to be for me, this might just be your Sixth Happiness. As it turns out, I may have arrived at the same conclusion that Gladys did. Those I love are my life and what has brought me the most happiness in it; these are the memories I will carry into the next one.
If you still aren’t able to identify your Sixth Happiness, you probably have some reflection and experimentation in front of you. But you owe that to yourself and those around you. The sands in our hour glasses move more swiftly than we can possibly know. Your Sixth Happiness must be yours alone. And you don’t have to share. Just work on identifying it so that you may enjoy it sooner versus later, or at the very least, understand you may already be doing so.
A challenge, should you choose to accept it, would be to begin this day pondering what your own six happinesses would be. Forget the excuses, fight off the dismay, remember there will always be things you cannot change and sadness that seems to block out the joy and awe we knew to be truth when we were young. Your mind however is a blank canvas and you are the master of your own work in progress. Never let anyone tell you otherwise or to steal your dreams.
Take one month, the cycle of a full turn of the Moon, one page on your kitchen calendar. Find at least five of your Six Happinesses. If you take this challenge seriously, you may even discover the sixth.
Dreams that turn into what is real begins with honesty and hope, is fueled by love and being faithful to what it is that you honor, and continues along the road of Enlightenment.
(1, 2) Twentieth Century Fox Studios, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness. 1958.