Day 16: Write Down Your Happiest Memory

If I were married or a mother, I imagine this challenge would be a no-brainer. Since I’m neither, it’s a bit more difficult to pick one profoundly happy memory. I’ve had thousands of great moments, but epic events worthy of the “Happiest Memory” title are few.

One event, though, keeps coming up when I search my memory bank. It happened way back in college when I was about 20 years old. It’s an important memory, I think, because it represents the first time I truly stretched myself.

I was an English major with daydreams of becoming a playwright, so when I learned about a playwriting class at my university, I was both excited and scared about the possibility of turning the dream into reality.

I enrolled in a 10-week class and began working on my one-act play. It was an amazing experience that lead to two more 10-week courses focusing first on completing the play, then on collaborating with actors and a director to produce it.

And that’s when my happiest memory occurred. The details have become fuzzy over time, but I vividly remember the love and support of my family who traveled long distances to see the performance. I remember the audience reacting exactly how I intended them to — laughing when I hoped they would laugh, sighing when I hoped they would sigh, clapping much more enthusiastically than I ever dreamed they would. I remember the unexpected praise I received afterward from people I didn’t know. I remember feeling proud of myself, maybe for the first time ever in my life.

I had taken a risk and the reward was better than I imagined. The memory of this still inspires me and gives me the courage to pursue other dreams, a reality which has resulted in more happy moments than I could ever begin to pinpoint.

If you’re wondering what happened to my dreams of becoming a playwright, read this.

Tomorrow’s Challenge: Watch a Documentary
To see what else is coming up, check the 30-day Challenge List .


8 thoughts on “Day 16: Write Down Your Happiest Memory

  1. I was happy to be a part of your happiest memory. As I recall, your mom’s family came on one night and my side came the next night, or something like that. I was so proud of you and what you had written. That is part of the reason I always encourage you to continue to write. You do it so well. It should be your calling.

    As to today’s challenge, I found it a difficult task. I even asked myself, “What, exactly, is happiness?” So many memories are a mixed bag;. They are part happy, part relief or regret or another emotion.. Some memories are colored by knowledge of a later outcome, such as a wedding day that led to a later divorce. How many memories are just happy memories?

    I’ve had so many happy memories. I’ve had weddings, births, a 25th anniversary party and many, many other big events. In every case, it was a mixed bag. Anxiety, disappointment, relief and other such things always were lurking there. While they did not destroy the happiness, they did impact it. So, I gave this one a lot of thought.

    I remembered a moment that came to me while I was flying the F-15C over Kadena AB in Japan. After first flying a single seat fighter right out of pilot training, I had spent years trying to get back into that line of work. I’d taught others to fly. I’d had desk jobs. I’d been to school after school. Finally, on that day over Kadena, I had finally gotten back to what I loved. I was a fully qualified and very competent single seat fighter pilot in the finest (at the time) fighter in the world. The thought hit me that this was what I was born to do. It felt as if God had intended this for me. At that moment, I was completely happy. It was blissful. I was self actualizing.

    To recall this now makes me a bit ashamed because that moment did not involve family, or friends or any other living soul. It was completely selfish and, until this moment, completely personal. But wow, it was a great feeling.

    High Flight
    Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
    And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
    Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
    Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things
    You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
    High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
    I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
    My eager craft through footless halls of air.
    Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
    I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
    Where never lark, or even eagle flew –
    And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
    The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
    Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
    Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee
    No 412 squadron, RCAF
    Killed 11 December 1941

    • I think this is a great happy memory, and I don’t see it as selfish. At moments like that, you’re beyond yourself. You become connected with God and everything. That’s why it’s bliss. I’m glad you experienced such an amazing moment and I’m even happier you shared it. Love you!

      • I’m glad you saw it my way. After I read Walt’s comments, I really felt selfish. I agree that his happiest moment was a really neat one.

        In fairness to myself, there was much, much more that went into me arriving at my special moment. Years of stuff I didn’t have the time nor desire to record. But, the best visual I can give you is to think of the original movie Rocky when he runs up the steps in triumph. I guess that was my Rocky moment (without the music).

  2. Wow! He begins yet another comment with wow. What can I possibly pull from the old memory bank from the category of happy memories that is worthy of being the happiest of them all? So I let the tapes run for a couple of days to try to lick something out. Was it the day I was “released” from the orphanage when Dad remarried 5 years after Mom died? Maybe it was the time I felt so great after finishing an 18 mile run! Or perhaps it was making that very special connection with my love? Or it could be the everyday contentment that runs through life. I finally decided that the happiest memory is about my Dad. More specifically it is about his calmness, and how that calmness was communicated to me as an example of a way of being. I remember a day when my brother an I were in disagreement over something insignificant. Dad wandered over and without saying a word started helping us with the chore in which we were supposed to be engaged. I remember the calming affect, and how silly our disagreement seemed. When Dad retired, the local newspaper published a page about his life. He was quoted as saying something like “The most important lesson he learned in life was patience. When life is rough, just be patient. It will get better.”. Wise words coming from a man who was arrested by Stalin’s police, sent into forced labor in Siberia, survived WWII and the separation from his family, and began life all over again in the U.S.A. So what is my happiest memory? I suppose it would be close to say that it is about my Dad. But it is more accurate to say it is about his influence, and about his quiet teaching that I learned to appreciate much later in life. My happiest memory lives within me every quiet and peaceful moment. And every one of those moments is because I have chosen it to be quiet and peaceful and happy, no matter what else is happening around me at the time. Thanks Angela, for this challenge, for the opportunity to feel my Dad’s presence and tear up a bit as I type, and to remember him in this way. And thanks, Dad, for your calming influence, guidance, and subtle instruction on the art of happiness.

  3. Hey y’all,
    Could be that we’re generating a new happy memory right here on this blog in front of everyone:)

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