This is an excerpt from A Child to Change Your Life, a book my dad Thomas Murray published when I was little. I read this excerpt at his funeral, in 2009. I'm working on an elaboration upon this book, based on my own experience as a parent, and I hope to have it out next year. —DM
It seems to me that I must tell my children that the happiness of human beings is too often measured in unrealistic lengths of time—in happy years, or a happy life. I want them to realize that life is not lived in lifetimes or even seasons, but in sunny mornings and snowy afternoons, in picnics in the yard and on Tuesdays with the flu and in hours and minutes and in waiting for a child’s fever to break and sitting quietly with your husband or wife on a Wednesday night or picking up her dress or his suit at the cleaner’s. That if they can’t find happiness here they won’t find it next week or next month somewhere over the horizon, in the excitement of flying an airplane or climbing a mountain or accepting the honors of their fellow men or of kissing a strange new mouth.
I am going to tell any child of mine what I believe—that the clearest indication of a happy life are happy days and happy nights, that the clock, and not the calendar, will always tell her truthfully whether happiness is really hers.