Ed_Pratt

Students at Napoleonville Middle School pose for a selfie with Edward Pratt after a Black History Month program last February. Photo provided by Edward Pratt.

Sadly, the stench of politics is consuming us right now. It is oozing from the volcanic piles of lies, racism and anger spewing from the top offices in the land.

Unless there are drastic changes in the political discourse, we are doomed for the foreseeable future to be overwhelmed by the grime and slime.

Like Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints evading defenders on a long run, we try to dodge as much of the bile as possible to maintain some sort of normalcy and find some true happiness.

There is a good definition that says happiness is “a state of well-being and contentment.” Another good one says that happiness “is about loving who you are and where you’re at in life.”

At one time happiness was getting an A on my elementary school report card. And it was beating Sarah Marshall in a spelling bee in second grade.

Happiness was Little League Baseball coach Mr. Beal giving me a jersey, only half of a baseball uniform, for his team. I was 9 years old and would never see the field that season, but I felt part of a team. I cherished that jersey.

A special kind of happiness was my dad moving me and my grandmother into his house. Words can’t describe that.

Later, happiness arrived when I was able to purchase my dream — a mostly brick house that had several window air-conditioning units. There was also a refrigerator that produced crescent-shaped ice in the freezer. Yes, crescent-shaped ice. That’s another story.

At this point, I was thinking money is the root of all happiness. If I had money, I could buy my favorite car, a big house, live in a fancy neighborhood that is safe from violence and go to the grocery store as often as I want and buy stuff I don’t really need.

More money equals happiness. Then you discover that some of your acquaintances that earn really comfortable salaries lead very sad lives. It’s true; you really can’t buy happiness. 

Then you reach the point where you discover the simplest of times of your life were happiest times of your life.

Like times at night I would get up while my grandmother was asleep and I would flip on the light in the kitchen. With the “Flit can” in hand, and using it like a machine gun, I would spray and kill dozens of roaches running wild across the floor. When I finished and saw the scattered bodies, I felt like a cowboy cleaning up a town. I can’t explain the joy.

The day I got married was awesome. It was proof that happiness could be found and overcome the pain of growing up and dealing with letdowns and emotional issues. The big addition was discovering during the dating process that my wife was a good athlete and would be a major force on our coed softball team.

And of course, seeing my children and grandchildren doing well in life is a major source of joy and happiness.

Here are a few more instances of pure happiness:

One was telling my editor at the Orlando Sentinel I was going to get some interviews done, when in fact I was going to see my daughter dance in a school talent show. But what made me happy was not only seeing how great she could dance, but the fact that she and her team included a boy with learning disabilities.

It was his first time being out front on anything. I was both proud and happy.

Another was finding out that my son spent his three days of school suspension in 9th grade helping to tutor other students who had also been suspended. Awesome.

But the No. 1 happiest moment, which will always take me away from this political mayhem, is remembering sitting with my grandmother and reading my first-grade books to her. Never allowed to get an education herself, that woman seemed so amazed and pleased that I could read and do math even if she couldn’t question any of it.

It would be one of the few times she would allow a smile, and it was worth everything to me, whether she had in her fancy dentures or not.

What are your happiest moments?

Email Edward Pratt, a former newspaperman who writes a weekly Advocate column, at epratt1972@yahoo.com.