August 20, 2015

Happiness is what you make it: Find your Goosebumps!

Flickr/David Hodgson

“We have to find your goosebumps!”

I can still smell the cigar slowly burning as he spoke those words loudly, while adjusting his hearing aid. It was during one of my darkest times that I came across this frail old man.

His body had withered but his mind was sharp. He guided me through the turbulent tides of my mind and helped me get on the path to reconciliation with myself.

A friend once gave me a card that she got at a coffee shop—it was a gift, to receive a free song to download. The name of the song was, “Sometimes you need.”

I usually don’t care for those free music cards, because I figured that the song probably wasn’t good, since it was free. But this time, I told myself to give it a chance. So I downloaded the song, and as I had predicted, the beat wasn’t to my liking. However, to my surprise, the lyrics spoke to me.

The words were exactly what I needed to hear. That song was a beautiful synchronicity, before i even knew what a synchronicity was. The song started off saying, “Sometimes you need a stranger to talk to.”

Why did this mean so much to me? It helped me understand that I wanted to express myself to someone that couldn’t judge me, because they didn’t know me.

But then I asked myself, “Does that mean that someone that does know me, has the right to judge me?”

My 17-year-old mindset, at that time, churned away with no specific answer.

Fear was the bread of my everyday in those times. Trying to figure out if I was going to live my life to my liking—or if I was going to live the life that others wanted for me.

The only goosebumps that I got at the time were from my heart constricting, as I sobbed myself to sleep.

“No, they don’t have the right to judge you!”

My stranger came to me in the fall of my 18th year. He was about 67-years-old, with liver spots and all. His gray hair swirled around his head with that old-man-typical bald spot at the crown of his head. We started our conversations talking about the “big things.”

Life—he would tell me about some of his fondest memories. Love—he would show me pictures of his past loves, and a tear slid down his left cheek when he talked about them.

“Happiness,” he would start in a serious voice, but then immediately broke out of it—flailing his arms in the air, and shouting, “Can’t be serious!”

After a brief pause he added, “So smile and laugh! Dance funny, sing horribly and tell unfunny jokes, because that’s what’s funny about them—it’s what you make it!”

Money—he would talk about his extravagant upbringing, but also how his parents showed him the true value to money, and how it was worthless if you valued it more than someone else or yourself.

Family—he would talk to me about his sisters and the rest of his wonderful family, which he loved so much.

I would tell him about the fights that led to my parents’ divorce and the time I walked in on my mom, overdosing on medication.  I also told him about the time my pregnant 16-year-old sister tried drinking Fabuloso. (Okay, you’re allowed to at least chuckle at that one.)


I bet your thinking—my stories weren’t so sweet.

But, when I shared all these things, he would repeat what he had already mentioned—“It’s about finding your goosebumps.”

He would emphasize the word “goosebumps” in a way that literally gave me goosebumps—it made me crack a smile through my tears.

He was referring to that feeling that overpowers us with passionate joy—the feeling that gives us a twinkle in our eye, as we stare into a beautiful tomorrow.

That feeling when you have no doubt that you are exactly where you are supposed to be.

Have I found my goosebumps yet? No, I can’t say I have.

That’s a journey I’m still on.

But, with everyday that passes I am able to better navigate through the waters of my mind. Why? Thanks to that stranger, who eventually became my mentor and friend.

He was like the strange part of me that was always there. We often tend to look at the bad things and forget that there is whole other part of us, hiding within ourselves.

Sometimes the stranger that we need to talk to is ourselves.

So I suggest—give yourself a chance.

Smile and laugh! Dance funny, sing horribly and tell unfunny jokes—because that’s what’s funny about them.

Your happiness is what you make it.

Get on the path to reconciliation with yourself, and find your goosebumps!



Living in the Dark (& How to Turn on the Light).


Author: Gregorio Sanchez

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Photo: Flickr/David Hodgson


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