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Kansas City MO 64131





Cindy Maddera

A while back, sometime between Christmas and the New Year, there was a day where the temperatures were tolerable outside, but the sky was overcast. A dirty white blanket rested over the city. I took a break from my work to walk over to the Kauffman Memorial Gardens with my camera. The day seemed to be lacking in color what with leafless trees and the brown grass of winter. So I set my camera to black and white thinking that this would be a good exercise in photography. Except as I crossed the street to get to the gardens, I looked up to see these trees at the entrance covered in bright red berries. The trees lined the stone wall of the garden and like all the other trees, these guys were devoid of leaves. All the starkness of the cold stone wall and the dead winter ground made the berries seem more than red.

They were a surprise. I had set my expectations to see black and white. I wasn't even going to try to see colors that day. I knew that there were still Christmas decorations up and there was a lovely wreath on one side of the wall, but because of the overcast sky it all just seemed dull. The tinsel and ribbons had faded and I didn't really give much of a glance to it. I was looking for shadows and contrast and the hold outs of Christmas decor just didn't catch my eye. Yet here were these bright red berries. Enticing. Looking easily like something to be plucked and eaten, though I'm sure they are not to be eaten by humans any way. 

A recent MRI study by the University College of London found that  "happiness depends not on how well things are going but whether things are going better or worse than expected." When I stepped outside that day with my camera, I had very low expectations. The day was dreary and flat. The lighting was not ideal. I just wanted to be outside for a bit and taking my camera for a walkabout seemed as good as an excuse as any even if I was sure that I would not be taking any frame worthy photos. But when I turned to cross the street and saw the pop of red, my heart lifted. There is a happiness movement that has swept the country. I have fallen for it myself with my own daily happiness project. There is such a push to be happy and if you try all kinds of activities and you're still not happy, here's a pill that will make you happy. I think there are times we look and try too hard. Instead of being happy, why not just be? Let the happy find you for change. Let the happy surprise you. 

Happy Love Thursday.