Where Happiness Comes From Essay, Research Paper
Where Happiness Comes From
by Tonia L. Harmon
Their farm was two hundred acres of corn fields,
cows, pigs, and, of course, chickens. No farm would be
complete without chickens. At the southeast corner of
the farm, behind the smaller corn field, was the brook
with clear cold water that reached past my knees. On
most weekends my family would go to visit our friends,
the Tailors, who had at one time seven boys to keep
them company. All of them were grown with their own
lives to attend to, except for Dan, who stayed on at the
farm to help keep up the crops. His younger brother Dave
still came back to the farm, from the busy city, to visit
and bring his children to see their grandparents. Even
though they were about the same age as my brother and I,
we did not play with them because they were greedy and
didn’t suit our playing qualifications by continuously
changing rules and cheating. It was rare that we encountered
them anyhow, and that suited us fine. Most of the time we
would stay the whole weekend. Our parent’s elected to
sleep in a tent, while my brother and I slept in one of
the many cozy bedrooms of the farmhouse. We loved it
there and secretly both he and I wished that we could
There were separate reasons why we loved it there.
My brother, Forest, had a choice of over a dozen
different old cars and trucks. Forest was allowed under
the hoods so that he could tinker with the engines and
figure out how they functioned. He was a ten-year old
mechanical genius. Everyone knew that he was going to
grow up to be a mechanic. When he was five or six,
Forest found an old transmission behind the barn; in two
hours he had taken it apart and put it back together
again without prior instruction. Old mister Tailor
watched from a distance while Forest disassembled and
methodically assembled the transmission to its original
Our parent’s are proud and still equally impressed
as the day it happened. They still brag and carry on
about his genius endeavor, as they do with both of us
for the many special encounters accumulated during our
My reasons for loving that farm cannot be so simply
expressed. I cannot narrow my reason into one great
memory, and I cannot say when exactly I fell in love
with the Tailor farm; perhaps it was from the first time
I stepped onto the warm and inviting soil.
There were moments when I’d get a burst of happy
energy and run through the field with my hair flying
behind me. The corn was at least four feet above my
head. Running through it gave me a secret place all my
own, like a completely separate planet that was occupied
by only me. Most often, after playing in the corn field
I went to the bend in the brook where the deepest spot
was, and after removing all unnecessary clothing I swam,
pretending I was a mermaid in the ocean. I loved to
watch my long red hair sway under the water with
my graceful swimming motion. If the sun’s ray danced on
my hair just right, beautiful colors would stream through
the clear utopian water.
After supper each night everyone collected on the
large screened-in front porch. The grown-ups drank cans
of cold Coors beer while my brother and I sipped cans of
Sprite or 7-up. Lightening bugs danced in the near
darkness while crickets sang to the melody. After a time
the porch light came on and a card game would emerge for
the men to play. My mother and Mrs. Tailor would stay at
their seats to talk or share recipes. Forest and I
shared the responsibility of getting cold beer from the
kitchen keeping all satisfied. On one occasion I asked
to join the game. Surprisingly, I was more than welcome;
Forest was invited too but declined. He was more interested
in finding a Mason jar to collect lightning bugs.
I received a quick lesson in the poker game, “Five
card draw”. As poker is mostly played with cash, each
player “spotted” me a dollar, starting me at three
dollars. I won the first real hand with a full-house.
An hour later my three dollars was close to a hundred and
I was pronounced the lucky winner. On Sunday after
church I used that money to treat everyone to breakfast.
Leaving the farm to go back to our small town was
difficult for me. I would cry or throw up a fuss,
stomping my feet, and refusing to leave. The times that
our family only stayed for the day, Mrs. Tailor would
volunteer to keep me over for the weekend and return me
home on Sunday after church. I think she enjoyed my
presence because all of her children had been boys.
On occasions when it was impossible for me to stay, Mrs.
Tailor would give me a comforting hug, and remind me that
next week we would be back again. Those words soothed my
discontent and solved any other matter that I suffered.
Mrs. Tailor was to me what women on the cover of
magazines are to most young girls today. I would attempt
to copy how she walked; or how she would brush her long
gray hair. I mimicked her words, as if by using them I
would somehow be more intelligent, even if I didn’t know
the meaning of them. I even copied the way she dialed the
phone with one of the extra rotary phones. I tried on her
shoes prancing around pretending to be Cinderella at the
ball or some other character from a story.
Looking back at these memories now, I realize how
I needed to have those good memories. Later, when my
family was torn in many directions, I depended on these
memories to get past the pain. I constantly tried to
soothe my alcoholic and violent parents by reminding them
of the good times. Sometimes my efforts worked other times
my parent=s didn’t even seem to care. It was the hope of
the future and being able to reflect upon these memories
that put a smile on my face when things seemed unmanageable.
I knew that happiness was possible; I had felt it before.
Those distant but vivid memories were all I had. During
those times, I vowed to make new memories of happiness,
instead of wearing out the only ones I had.
Someone once told me that happiness came from the
inside and they were right. I wasn’t able to be truly happy
again until I found that place inside my heart and was
comfortable with what I found. Simply pleasing others was
not a substitute for expressing love.