It’s a word we see everywhere and yet we never manage to grasp it. It’s our human quest to find it. But what I’m realizing is that the more important lesson is to really hold onto it when you have it, because, like everything, it won’t last forever. And that’s not a bad thing.

When you live in a sunny place, as I did for the first half of my life, you acclimate. You like it, but you don’t cry with happiness when you wake every morning with the sun shining through your window. But when you live in a dark and rainy place, as I have for the last 16 years, you deeply appreciate it, knowing that it won’t always be sunny.

And it’s not a bad or sad thing. It’s rather beautiful. To understand how to be inside of a moment. To feel the sun’s warmth, to smile, to appreciate it. Not to take it for granted. It’s not about planning for tomorrow’s sunny day, it’s about enjoying the sun today. And now that I live in the Netherlands, where yesterday it was 90 and today it’s cloudy and 64, it’s never been more apparent. Also, I think heat makes people angry. At least that’s what it seemed like being around all of those sweaty Romans for the past two weeks.

Happiness is fleeting, sun is fleeting and being afraid of when the happiness or the sun go behind a cloud is useless. Fear does not prevent us from dying. We will die whether we anticipated death and were fearful of it or whether we were oblivious with our head in the clouds. Either way it will find us.

I don’t like being afraid. I don’t like being anxious. But somehow those have been the dominant feelings in my life for awhile now. I’m not even sure how long, but it feels like a really long time.

Yesterday I took a run along the canals. At first, I was running in the middle of the busy morning commute (bike commute that is), unsure of how to get myself to a more open area with less people. But I made a quick turn, and there I was among lavender fields and water, on a path for walking, with no bikes. And I could breathe. I didn’t feel nervous. I didn’t have to picture women’s bodies being found in the woods (i.e. Forest Park). I didn’t have to wince at creepy old men staring at me (i.e. Rome). Or run quickly past young homeless dudes riding bmx bikes with dogs who turn around to follow me (i.e. Overlook Park). I didn’t have to keep my eye on the neighborhood to ensure a wrong turn wouldn’t land me somewhere dangerous (i.e. Buenos Aires).

I just ran.

Without fear.

I’m happy and living without fear. And it’s confusing to me. I keep questioning how it could be possible that someone who is known for being emotional, for being anxious, for being afraid, could feel happy and content.

Someday the other shoe will drop. Someone else I love will get sick. I will feel sad again. But I won’t live in fear of that day. I know it’s there, but I’m here. And I will enjoy here for as long as I can.