If you want to be happy, be. ~Leo Tolstoy
White baby powder made the surface slick, so that the discs could glide against the lacquered plywood. On weekend nights, in my childhood home, my family and I made a ritual of playing the Indian game Carrom, a type of table shuffleboard. My Mom and Dad would team up against my sister and me. We would laugh as each of us tried to out maneuver the other. In the background, music would play on the stereo, everything from Michael Jackson songs to the hits of Bollywood India. There would be popcorn, Sour Patch Kids, and Coca-Cola on ice. It wasn’t about playing the game, but spending time in our living room, being together and enjoying how we all slid into the moment.
I didn’t think it would be possible to replicate that slide, until one summer night in 2008. My husband, my daughter, and my sister decided that we would spend the night at my parent’s house. As we were finishing dinner, my sister grabbed the Carrom board out of the garage and announced, “I think it’s time we introduce your husband and daughter to the greatness of Carrom.” I laughed as we all filed into the living room. I felt a tiny burst inside of me, curious as to how they would feel about this game.
We all sat down, crossing our legs on the floor, the smell of the familiar baby powder grazed my nose. At one point, my husband was teasing my mom about how she maneuvered the disk onto the board and snorted a quick laugh as she missed. My daughter would try to distract us by scooping the discs on the board, as we yelled, “Don’t touch that.” My father smiled, coaxing his granddaughter to play, even though she understood no rules of game.
As I reflect on this now, I pause, replaying that moment in my mind. There were smiles on everyone’s faces, as each of us were immersed in the moment. I wasn’t chasing anything. All of the people who loved me and who I have loved were contained in my space at the same time. It was the perfect way of being.
And that is why I recognize this as ultimate happiness.
Is just being enough to fulfill the definition of happiness? Do any particular board games offer feelings of nostalgia and happiness? Why do we struggle to just be?