During last week’s festivities to celebrate our nation’s independence, I spent some time reflecting on our unalienable rights — granted by our Constitution — to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Life and liberty were pretty easy to define. But what about happiness? Is it found through family, career, service, travel, lifelong learning? Is my concept of happiness different than yours?
How, and where, do I pursue my happiness?
So I decided to look for what makes me happy.
In the process, I discovered that my own pursuit of happiness starts right here, right outside my back door, actually. Here are few of may favorites:
1) Visiting Clear Creek where it crosses Kipling Street. In addition to the happy mallards usually cooling off in the little pond on the east side of Kipling, I recently saw a heron standing stately and elegant in the reeds, a glimpse of the magical in an ordinary setting.
2) Riding the Ralston Creek Trail. On my bike, I glide from shaded stream banks and wooden bridges to residential neighborhoods along West Woods Golf Club to stretches of wildlife habitat out to the reservoir. (Up at the top, I also enjoy the sun with the occasional snake or lizard.) From where I live, I can ride a 16-mile picturesque round trip up and over the reservoir.
3) Enjoying any patio, anywhere. A view of the mountains, a view of the city, a view of my neighbor’s cookout … I can pursue happiness on a patio and simply bask in the sun, the shade, the sheer delight of something cool to drink and someplace cool to hang out.
4) Taking in Red Rocks, again. Just named the best outdoor music venue in the U.S. by Rolling Stone magazine, Red Rocks is more than an unbeatable place to attend a concert. On my recent visit to the amphitheater — in addition to the familiar-but-always-breathtaking scenic beauty — the sight of dozens (maybe hundreds) of early-morning zealots running the stairs, doing push-ups down the seats, or jumping squats up the seats was as dizzying to me as the view.
5) Looking out from Lookout Mountain. Or looking down from Lookout Mountain. It’s always exhilarating, especially if I’ve just slogged my way up through Chimney Gulch. (I think I’ll hitch a ride with my bike to the top next time and just enjoy the mountain biking downhill.)
My most recent car trip up Lookout Mountain was with a young friend from the Czech Republic who had never been there. It was exceptionally fun to see her surprise and wonder as we wound around to the top. We stopped a couple of times for photos of the city to the east and the mountains to the west.
On our way down, as we slowed for a turn, we saw the doe. And she saw us. A road cyclist and another car stopped. In this quiet stretch of time, even in this urban-accessible place, there was a subtle communion.
Our Constitution guarantees our right to pursue that which makes us happy, and this particular moment will always remain a piece of my own personal pursuit of happiness.
Andrea Doray is a writer who loves Colorado, and likes to share it. She sends her thoughts and wishes to those affected by the wildfires in our state, and elsewhere. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.