>What makes you happy?

>Last week I had a meeting with a potential client. A woman who works in skin care, very fancy high-end skin care. This woman has a practice so evolved that she requires interviewees sign a confidentiality statement before even starting chitchat.

I was talking to her about ghost writing, and in order to see if there was a click I asked her about her practice, why is it different? She explained that she practices holistic skin care and few others work the way she does. She sees the skin, the body’s largest organ, as a map to the wellness of entirety of a person.

Our skin wizard, can look at her patient and see if perhaps she is not having enough fun, is closed minded, or holding grudges that appear as dark circles. Yes she often performs miracles with chemicals, creams, peels and others tricks of modern magic. But she also asks her clients questions.

Her keystone is this:

What makes you happy?

Does this seem easy at first?

It isn’t a rainbows, walks on the beach and puppies kind of query; she really wants to know what rings her client’s chimes emotionally.

And she says very few can answer it without prompts from her.

In fact when she asked me, I was somewhat stumped, I suppose from the notion that happiness needs to be a combinations of selflessness, doing good, and care, of ourselves and others. But as I left, convinced that I didn’t get the job, and reemerged into the cold, rarified Upper East Side atmosphere, heightened by the bevy of Christmas shoppers plunking down dollars beyond my wildest imaginings, I knew ineluctably what makes me happy.

I got on my bike, my old bike, my trusty bike, not something I need to replace after a decade or even three; I sat upright on the seat and started to peddle home. And it was then that the rush hit me.

Going home. Going home at Christmas. Going to where it is warm and yes worn down and crammed full of love and memories. And taking myself home at 57, in the cold, with the crepuscular promise of deep dark coming upon me. I am peddling my old legs, ones that aren’t replaced or enhanced, but have just worked, been fed and occasionally cherished and now they take me home.

I peddled my bike downtown; it is about five miles and takes about three quarters of an hour. I pass lights and shoppers and traffic and I am inured to all of it as I whiz down or slog up hills; all toward home. I revel that I make my own heat, as I observe women clutching furs, their hose covered legs looking for all the world like twigs emerging from a bear. And I peddle, warmer with every glide and stroke.

I move through Mid-town and into Greenwich Village, the low buildings auguring my imminent return home. I see the trees; the occasional menorahs and I feel my center returning. I love to propel myself in wind and cold and coming night. I love taking myself home year after year, mile after mile. I often feel, after a particularly harrowing ride, with black ice or errant cars, that I should exclaim, “ HOME FREE ALL!!’ the way we did when we were kids and had avoided capture in games of hide-and-seek. There was a magic about touching the tree that was base; home base and arriving home / home free all.

And so I am home now writing, no I didn’t get the job writing about beauty for a tapered twig who boasted caring for president’s wives and other leaders of the world;
I am just writing. I am here with the smell of a big balsam and the snuffling of my goddaughter wrapped warm in her carriage as her mother shops to haul goodies home to Scotland.

Home, where, if the gods and goodness prevail, is the notion that must make us all happy. Especially in this season.

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