On Tuesday night, I had the privilege of attending a Happier Hour Literary Salon in Los Angeles with authors Dani Shapiro and Sarah Manguso. My friends/colleagues/fellow scribes Claire Bidwell Smith and Jillian Lauren hosted the evening at Jillian's beautiful home and Dani and Sarah read selections from their gorgeous books Still Writing and Ongoingness: The End of a Diary.
It was a brilliant night and the fact that I was able to escape my busy world here and be there for it was more than meaningful to me. I stood up in the room packed with fantastic women to say a little something about Happier Hours, what they are, and how they began. Knowing I'd have this opportunity, I looked back at my very first blog post about Happier Hours. I wrote it in the spring of 2010 before I hosted my inaugural event. I was struck by the words I wrote all those years ago and I read some of them to the group on Tuesday:
There are twenty-four hours in each day. There are 168 hours in each week. There are 8736 hours in each year. There are, on average, 672,672 hours in each lifetime.
The so what matters here. Our days, our weeks, our years, our lives, are made up of hours. And how we spend these hours, these sixty-minute chunks of time, is important. How we spend these hours - and with whom - informs how happy we are.
So, yes. Here's my decidedly unscientific hypothesis: There is a direct correlation between hours and happiness.
... And so. It occurred to me that a simple way to be happier is to have happier hours, more minutes and moments where we do things that make us smile and celebrate and savor existence. Okay, fine. But what do we do? How do we do this?
We talk. We question. We imagine. We dream.
We have conversations with other people - interesting and interested people - about things that matter to us. All of us.
I have said this before, but for me happiness is conversation. Talking about ideas, weaving words, examining the canvas of life alongside others… These are the things that rev me up, that slacken my angst, that make me feel alive and engaged.
And so. A while back, I had a little idea. It started as so many ideas do. As a tiny seed. And the wild winds of a busy life threatened to blow this seed away. But the seed was sturdy and stubborn and took root. In the soil of my dreams and of my days. And from it, something grew. Something great.
Yes, something great. Something better than great, I can now say. These evenings have evolved in a way I could never have imagined. Tuesday evening was quite magical. Dani and Sarah were a perfect duo. Their conversation - about life, writing, motherhood and more - was organic and insightful and we were all enraptured. And then there were questions, good and thoughtful, and answers, good and thoughtful.
I wish I had the energy to pen a more detailed post about Tuesday night, but the truth is that I am home now and decently jet-lagged. What I will do is encourage you all to snag a copy of Dani's Still Writing and pre-order Sarah's Ongoingness (out soon, on March 3rd!). Also, go ahead and pre-order Claire's beautiful After This which I had the luck of reading early and blurbing and Jillian's forthcoming Everything You Ever Wanted which I devoured and adored on the flight home yesterday. I'm looking forward to hosting Claire and Jillian for a Happier Hour NYC in May!
Goodness, I'm so happy I made the quick trip out there to that sunny, storybook world, but I'm even happier to be home. I returned late last night to a quiet house, kissed my slumbering man hello, but this morning I was reunited with my pajama-clad girls.
Thank you, Claire and Jillian, for bringing my beloved Happier Hours to the West Coast and for pulling them off with such gusto and grace. And thank you, Dani and Sarah, for joining us all for such an inspiring night.