POV: Happiness.

POV ("point of view") is a series that addresses many of the same themes covered in my Equals Record column: growing up, saying yes to adventure, learning to embrace a quarter-life crisis. Each POV entry will include a photograph and a short reflection based on what’s pictured. While my previous column focused largely on ideas, POV will focus on moments - glimpses, glances, tiny stories.

“I don’t have anything to write about,” I told a friend earlier this week. We were in a coffee shop in Greenpoint. I should have been working. Instead, I flipped through a copy of Time Out.

“I’m out of ideas,” I continued, pausing on a photo of kielbasa. “Do you think it’s because I’m happy?”

Last year – single, broke, directionless, and in therapy – I’d never had any problem coming up with things to write. I drafted many of these reflections in dark corners of coffee shops in the dead of winter. If writing them made me cry, I took this as a good sign.

The act of writing was soothing, and it was made better by solitude, sad songs, poetry, rain. “We’re feeling it all,” Megan and I would say. “We’re so busy living.”

Months later, the twists and turns of that emotional rollercoaster have become less pronounced - and for the most part, this is a relief. But what else is there to write about now, apart from beauty, and magic, and flight?

I’ve often wondered (as has every creative person I know) - does the most powerful writing – and the best art – come from pain?
Recently, I got my hair cut on a whim. Knowing I wouldn’t be able to secure a last-minute appointment at my usual salon, I went elsewhere, to a little brick shop on the north side of Williamsburg. My stylist - who had brown eyes and thick lashes and long dark hair with violet tips - wore leggings printed with pink and purple stars, a tank top with some sort of magical cat on the front, and a bindi. I loved her.

Over the course of an hour, I learned that she was in her thirties and recently divorced. She believed in magic, in full moons, in manifestation.

“How exactly do you manifest things?” I asked.

“I talk about them,” she said. “I write about them.”

She told me that she was learning to be a stronger and more independent woman; that she was choosing to focus on cultivating positive relationships. She said that her divorce was the best thing that had ever happened to her, that she was happy.

Before I left, she told me about a night she’d spent with a group of women in the park. They’d written their fears on pieces of paper, folded the papers into boats, and sailed them down the East River in the moonlight. “Everything is an adventure,” she said.

“I think so, too,” I replied, and a new phrase came to mind: happiness as adventure.

I sat in silence. “This is amazing,” I said. “I’m so glad I came here by chance.”

She smoothed cream into my hair. “Nothing’s by chance,” she said.

On my way home, I passed a cheese shop and breathed it in. I listened to a busker banjo-ing in front of the subway. I browsed books on the sidewalks and ran my fingers across a row of feather dusters. It was a warm day. My limbs tingled.

I walked home. I wrote this.

You can find my previous POV entries, here, and the archive for my personal essay column on the Equals Record, hereThanks so much, as always, for reading! Photo via my Instagram.


  1. Sometimes I wonder if I allow myself to stay stuck in my seemingly endless state of anxiety and existential-crisis-ism just for the sake of feeling the pangs in my stomach that come along with maybe I'll feel guilty if I don't have something to worry about.

    Sometimes I think I'm just lazy. =]

    I'm glad you're happy, and I don't think your current state is doing anything to hurt your beautiful writing. My guess is that as you get used to the happiness, the ideas will flow with more ease. I'm looking forward to what's to come. =]

  2. Amazing. As I sit in my economics lecture in an emotional standstill with myself as to why I no longer write and paint as much as I used to, you've answered it already in the best way I know exists. Happiness is an adventure and is reaped by the occasional roller coaster, it's not something you can constantly pant after.
    I like to think that we'd be bosom friends if we knew each other. You're brilliant.

  3. I love those moments of magic when things just fall into place!

  4. Rachel, thank you - and I'm sure you're not being lazy!

    Nicholle, thank you so much! Maybe one day we'll be friends in real life - I'd love it :)

  5. love it, as always

  6. Another genuine and beautifully written POV. Such a great work!

  7. Your writing is like therapy! I don't even know if that makes sense, but that came to mind. I'm glad you are happy. Enjoy it, savor it. Life is all about cycles.

  8. I've missed reading these. This was such a beautiful piece. I agree that pain is a powerful trigger when it comes to writing and creating. I honestly think I've become a much better writer since losing Cameron and being forced to pour out my grief in the form of words... I like your notion: happiness as adventure.
    Hope your weekend is lovely, Shoko.
    Ronnie xo

  9. I think we need pain to be better writers, artists, workers, and people. I think without pain and sadness it would be impossible to understand what happiness is. I think feeling happiness after a hard time is a sign of growth (as a writer and as a person)...

    And I'm glad your feeling happy!


  10. you are happy yet you managed to capture such simple moments with such beauty.. I think it's just easier to be a tortured artist than a happy stable one.

  11. I believe we need a little pain and a little doubt to make great art, but we also need a little sparkle of happiness - otherwise we wouldn't be able to find beauty in everyday moments, like the one you've just described. Another amazing POV!

  12. Awwwww!!! This is SO good. I mean, they're all good, but this just might be my favorite POV yet. Stunning work, sista.

  13. Jocy, that's so nice to hear. Thank you!

    Ronnie, I'm always so touched by your writing.

    Victoria, thanks, lady. Such a compliment coming from you.

  14. I loved every word of this, and am so happy that you are happy.

  15. I think this is my favorite of your POV posts, thus far! After times of uncertainty or struggle, happiness can feel shockingly scary. But I love the idea of thinking of it as an adventure--embrace it! And savor every single second of it!

  16. Oh my gosh. I really love your writing Shoko. I've been in a ridiculous funk the past month or so and when I saw this post in my feedly, I immediately bookmarked it to read when I had the time to really soak it in. So glad I did. Thank you for sharing this series with your readers.

  17. This POV is very inspiring and beautifully written as always! Thanks for lighting up my day!

  18. Beautiful piece! My favorite one you have written so far! So evocative.



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