Travis Smith: my resume, bio and photos back to the main blog page

I’ve been back for a while, and I’m turning into one of THOSE people. You know the ones.  The ones who get back from a trip and say “Well, that reminds me of when *I* was in Japan.”

Because it’s TRUE.  Everything here DOES remind me of everything in Japan.  We eat a meal, and it’s like, hey, this is totally different than when we were in Japan.

I go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and I’m shocked—SHOCKED—that the toilet seat isn’t heated ... like in Japan!

And I was on the phone today with my Mom in Calgary, and we talked about how if she was in Japan, her heater would probably still be working fine, instead of not working not fine.


Yeah, she lives in Calgary, and it was -29C there today.  It’s actually warmed up a bit now, both outside (-22C) and inside, because her furnace was only busted for half the day.

Still, that’s pretty scary.  Having your heating fail in the winter in Alberta is a little like having an air leak in the space station, except unlike an astronaut, you have to pay the full cost of the repair yourself.

They turned the oven on with the door open, and ran the dishwasher, and bundled up, and called everyone in the Yellow Pages, and paid a bazillion dollars and now she and my sister will not freeze into icicles by morning.


I had the oven going today all day, too, but it was for a more happy reason: I was baking cookies and making fudge and stirring caramel and generally preparing all sorts of Christmas goodness with Degan and Susie.

OK, I can feel lasers shooting into the back of my head, so let me clarify.  I got up and went to breakfast with the boys, and while I was at the store, Susie and Degan went grocery shopping.

Then I came home and hung stockings and carried in fire logs and cleaned up, while they mixed and blended and sifted.

Then I worked on my photos while they stirred and stirred and stirred—the caramel takes about 2 hours of CONSTANT stirring.

Then I sampled the bacon-chocolate-chip cookies, and offered some advice on how to make the shortbread cookies, and set the timer a few times when needed, and stirred when someone else had to go to the bathroom or make a phone call.

Then I washed some dishes and cleaned up again and made myself a sandwich.  And then I offered more advice about how to properly salt the salted caramel.

Then I ate some fudge and some caramel and some cookies and a beer and another beer and talked with Jen who came over to give us a Christmas card and we had a fire and talked about Magic.

Then I played a few hours of video games and Susie shoveled the walk and we went to bed.

All in all, a very very happy day.


But even though today was peaceful and wonderful and happy and Christmas-y and all things were good with the snow falling and music playing and presents half-wrapped, I still felt sad from time to time, and I stopped to ponder why that was, and here’s what I came up with.

For one thing, I was sad when I remembered that I knew that the day would end, and that it couldn’t last. There’s a sadness that comes with the temporary nature of all good things.

And I was sad because I couldn’t really comment on how amazing the day was without spoiling the simplicity of what was happening, and yet I wanted to, so there was this sadness that came from knowing something but not being able to share it without changing the moment.

And of course, there’s the more general problem I sometimes face, which is that, when I’m happy, sometimes I can just be blissful and in the flow, and other times I’m hyper aware of how happy I am, which makes me aware of how happy and sad I am capable of being overall, and I get sad because I remember I could be happier and that’s unsatisfying, or I get sad for the opposite reason, because know I’d be happy if I was able to just enjoy the moment without being self-conscious about it.

And then there’s the issue of being happy for myself but sad for others who can’t be part of my happiness, or who are missing out, or who don’t have the same situation. Sometimes you can call that homesickness, or just the opposite of selfishness: wanting to share happiness and realizing it doesn’t necessarily transfer.

Then there’s the feeling of not deserving the fortune that I have, or of wondering why I’m so blessed, and that’s bittersweet at times.

And finally, I felt a bit sad because I remembered the other times that were similarly happy that are over now, and even though I’m enjoying a happy moment, that echo causes me to simultaneously mourn the happy moments that have passed.


I guess what I’m trying to say is this: I think that in every happy moment, there is sadness; it’s not something that comes after or that sneaks in and spoils a happy moment.  It is an intrinsic part of happiness; it’s like the tartness in a glass of orange juice, impossible to remove and still have it be orange juice.

And today, being such a nice day, freshly squeezed, there was a nice dose of tartness, too.  It was a very good day.



Previous entry:
Japan Day 9: Kyoto Is Still Awesome

Next entry:
Bambi in My Belly


“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play with variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

...who said it?




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