He looked admiringly at his newly acquired collection of bossa-nova CD’s. Somehow, the rhythm and unusual chords that characterize this form of popular Brazilian music had grown on him since his visit to Rio last year. He took out the Tom Jobim CD and put it on.
On his way to the veranda, he picked up his favourite, pineapple juice, crushed ice and mint, and moved out through the glass doors. For the hundredth time since he had bought the place, he drank in the sight. At 1000 meters, he was surrounded by sub-tropical rainforests. A string of deep-blue lagoons stretched out below him, some of them opening into the turquoise sea that was only five kilometres away. The sun was throwing a magical play of light on the whole magical scene.
“Your lasagne is ready, honey,” his wife called from the dining area. He had married her just a year ago. Though it was his third marriage, it seemed that finally he had found someone who he could share his life with. She made great lasagne.
“Bring it out. I see table is already set.”
“Coming up,” she said as she came rushing through with the steaming porcelain dish. She was flushed and that made her look even prettier. Maybe it was the pride in having made a great dish.
“Smells delicious. I'm feeling starved. Something about this mountain air makes me ravenous.”
A few minutes later, he was just about to put the first forkful of cheese, tomatoes and pasta into his mouth when the phone rang. Annoyed, he put down his fork and said, “I’ll get it. How come every time I sit down to eat the damn phone rings.”
He rushed to the phone. From the veranda, his wife could see him nodding and exclaiming.
When he came back in he was a white as a sheet. “What happened?” she asked. “You’ll feel better after you eat.”
He stumbled over the words. “I've lost my appetite. That was Mum’s doctor. The tests have just come back to him. She has a tumour in the liver. Malignant. It doesn't look good.”
Comment: We set up our castles of illusion on the unrealistic premise that nothing can ever happen to tear them down. Sometimes, just bad news can make us oblivious to the favourites of our sense organs. We don’t hear the music, smell the air, see the sights or even taste the food. We are not aware even of the company around us. Something happens that we can’t understand. It doesn’t fit into our ideal world.
Real happiness isn’t based on the things around us but our understanding of them.
Short story from the book,"Reflexões para uma vida plena" by Ken O'Donnell , Editora Integrare, São Paulo (link)