Happiness Comes to Those Who Choose It

Happiness Comes to Those Who Choose It

The colorful leaves crunch under her steps as she walks through the worn paths of the woods. She breathes in the crisp, cool air, a small puff of a cloud forming as she releases that breath. She inhales deeply once more, taking in all of the scents of her surroundings. She instantly feels herself relax as the chilly air begins to wrap around her. She tightens her sweatshirt around her body to shield out some more of the nippy breeze that picks up as she makes her way further into the wooded area.

Branches snap and more leaves rustle beneath her steps as she begins to stray from the well-marked path. She continues on her own accord, heading in the direction she's taken hundreds of times before. She's in search of her safe place - her haven to escape to when she wants to be away from the rest of the world. The place she goes to when she wants to be alone with her thoughts. Or escape them, whichever the situation may call for. Today is one of the escaping kind of days.

She'd begun coming to this spot four years ago when, feeling more adventurous than usual, she began wandering the woods and exploring what may be hidden there. She'd discovered her shelter completely by mistake - and it had been the best thing that could have happened to her. She spent hours in the fortress that first afternoon, and she made sure to find her way back there the following day. From then on, it had become her place to write, to read, to sing, to dance, to sit and think, to just be.

It's the only place she feels she can be no one but her own true self.

She nestles into her favorite place to sit, leaning her back against the trunk of a long-ago fallen tree. She crosses her legs in front of her and props her right elbow on her knee, placing her chin in her palm. She uses her left hand to pick up a nearby stick and begin etching random lines and dots in the moist dirt. As she doodles, she gets lost in her own thoughts, mentally leaving her physical surroundings and embracing those of her imagination.

In her creative fictitious dreams, she takes herself to the place where she isn't from a broken home filled with hatred and neglect. She forgets about the constant arguments that take place around her on a routine basis. She frees herself from the miserable life she leads - the one that she can't wait to be free of in the real world too once she leaves for college the following year.

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He opens up the sketch pad in his lap and grabs for a pencil from the case stationed beside him on the tree stump he'd found. He gazes around at the scenery, taking in the colors and textures before him. He settles on a section to draw and places the pencil to the paper, beginning to etch the lines that will come to replicate his environment.

His head rises just enough to glance back at the scenery in front of him before dipping back down towards his work. He repeats this action again and again, wanting to be sure to capture every minute detail. The quiet atmosphere envelopes him, bringing him into his own little world where nothing exists but himself and the view in front of him. He focuses solely on his artwork, wiping all other thoughts out of his mind for a while.

He erases the nagging words of his mother telling him that art won't get him anywhere in life and to become a lawyer like his father. Gone are the "suggestions" from his well-to-do grandfather pushing him to join the successful family law firm. He knows that his family means well and that they only want what's best for him, but he can't help feeling like he's sinking under the constant pressure.

As his fingers work diligently on his masterpiece, it begins to sprinkle. He tries to carry on, not wanting to lose his concentration or his angle, but when a drop hits his canvas, he quickly makes the decision to pack it up before it could get ruined. As he hastily, but carefully, returns his materials to his messenger bag, the rain begins to fall more steadily. He braces himself for the downpour he knows he'll be faced with once he leaves the shelter of the treetops above him.

Right when he turns to head back towards the path he'd taken to get to this spot, he hears laughter ringing out from just beyond the set of trees he'd been sketching. He squishes through the now damp ground and positions himself behind the biggest tree of the group to see who it is that has the laugh that chimed its way to his ears.

When he spots her, his breath catches for a moment. She's wearing jeans and a sweatshirt, her hair is matted down by the rain, and there is dirt splotches all over her clothes, but somehow, in this moment of absolute uninhibited bliss, she is the most beautiful thing he's ever seen. She's living for herself, in the moment - something he's never been able to accomplish.

As she continues to turn in circles and play and dance in the rain, he can't help but feel almost a little jealous. She's making the most of the situation at hand, choosing to enjoy this moment instead of run from it, as he was just about to do. Despite the plain, unglamorous look about her, her beauty and happiness radiate from the inside as she enjoys the simple pleasure of dancing in the rain.

He stands and watches her a moment longer before turning in the direction of the path. He's soaked by now, and as much as he'd like to just throw caution to the wind and embrace this weather like she's doing, he chooses to continue on home.

Maybe next time, he thinks as his legs take him back to where he'd come from. Her laughter echoes out behind him again, bringing a smile to his face.

He has no idea who she is, and will probably never know who she is, but in that moment, she showed him what true happiness is.