A few days earlier, the principal of the girls' school had asked farmer Bren if we could come and lay some pavers between the preps' classroom and the main building where the high traffic and the wet weather had made a muddy, slippery mess. One parent had donated the pavers and we filled the back of the ute with shovels and trowels, a rubber mallet and a broom and we drove to school to get to work.
First we marked out the winding path, then we cut out the dirt and grass and levelled it, filled it with buckets of sand-pit sand, laid the pavers, banged the pavers in, poured sand over them, swept the sand in the gaps and cracks, built up the edges with the dirt we had dug out and then stomped on the whole thing back and forth a few times to make sure it didn't move.
And although we had chosen Thursday because it wasn't meant to rain, I think it was one of the coldest days I can ever remember. The clouds were so low that we couldn't see Wombat Hill right behind the school, the ground I was kneeling on felt like a wet block of ice and I'm certain my fingers and lips were blue. But gosh we had fun and laughed a lot.
I loved spending the day off the farm with Bren working hard and doing something really constructive. I felt warm and fuzzy every time a teacher or parent or student walked past us and chatted and thanked us, I loved how excited the kids were with their new path and I enjoyed that exhausted feeling of a job finished and well done at the end. But by far the best bit was at home time when we stood with a bunch of school people at the end of the new path and watched as one by one people danced and moon-walked and shuffled back and forth down the path. There was so much laughter and silliness and happy community feeling. It felt like we were part of something wonderful. Something really good.
I have no doubt that by next week the path will be just a path, used but not really noticed, but that afternoon it was something more.
Later on after we got home, showered, changed, had a few cups of hot tea and finally thawed out a little, I told my farmer boy that that day had been one of the happiest I could remember. I feel like we are so lucky to be a part of such a special school, so blessed to be able to spend our day together getting stuff done and I am so grateful for the kindness we receive in return.
And then my farmer boy told me that he believes that the real key to happiness is doing things for other people.
Yeah!! Real, true happiness is not a selfish act. Real true happiness comes from giving and from community and from a place of generosity.
And then I had one of those moments where everything becomes really clear and makes sense. I love it when that happens. Now I can't stop thinking about how to put all that into play in a bigger way in my life.
I hope you have what you need friends.
The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes.
His Holiness Dalai Lama