As always, Sandy the elephant and Zoot the dog were the best of pals in the whole wide world and were sitting by the river.
“You think them birds are going somewhere?” Asked Zoot to his pal.
“Why do you ask, young Zoot?” Replied Sandy in a fatherly kinda way.
“Oh, just wonderin’. Can’t help but wonder about life sometimes, that’s all.”
“You sickenin’ for somethin’?” Asked a concerned Sandy.
“Not that I know, I just wondered if those birds were lookin’ for happiness. You know they ain’t happy where they are, so maybe they fly on to somewhere else. Maybe happiness is a place.”
“Hold on one minute there, Buddy. What makes the birds happy might not make you happy. I mean, you’re a dog. Would eating seeds and berries and sitting on tree branches mean happiness to you?”
Zoot thought about it for a while.
“Why, I guess you’re right Sandy, ain’t nothin’ there that would make me happy. But maybe where there are trees and berries they’d be things to make a dog happy,too?”
“I ain’t sayin’ you’re right and I ain’t sayin’ you’re wrong. I’m just sayin’ to think about it different. Now we’re happy here sittin’ by the river and talkin’
about this and that and everythin’ else. Well ain’t we?”
“I guess,” said Zoot.
“All we got, is ourselves and the sea, and they ain’t chargin’ for that yet.”
“What about money ‘though, Sandy. Don’t that make folks happy?”
“Might do, for a short time,” said Sandy. “But then, if you’re only happy when you got money, you’re gonna have to keep getting’ money, to make you feel you’re happy. Kinda like a drug or smokin’ or stuff.”
“So money don’t make ya happy,Sandy?”
“That ain’t what I’m sayin’, bud. I’m sayin’ if you need it to make you happy then you’re never going to be truly happy.”
Zoot thought about all this for a time, then said: “What about the birds. Don’t they travel somewhere else to be happy.”
“I can’t really talk for the birds, Zoot, but if goin’ somewhere else is gonna make you happy, you really need to have been happy before you started out.”
“I don’t understand,” said Zoot.
“You might travel to another place, and ‘cause it’s new or different…”
“…or both,” added Zoot.
“Or both, you might be convinced that you’re happy ‘cause it’s not where you came from. But give it long enough and the way you’re feelin’ will sink back into your thoughts, ‘cause the new place it ain’t so new anymore…”
“..or different,” added Zoot again.
“So what you’re sayin’ is, if I ain’t happy here, I ain’t gonna be happy anywhere.”
“That’s about it. ‘Cause I got you and you got me and we both got the sea, and all that makes me happy.”
“And you, Zoot. So be happy here and now and you’ll always be happy.”
“How do I do that Sandy?”
“Just count your blessings, Zoot. Some folks would give everythin’ just to have what you have, but when you have it every day, you sometimes take things for granted. You forget how lucky you really are.”
“Tell you what, Sandy, I’m gonna walk home and count up my blessings all the way.”
“You do that, Zoot and I’ll see ya tomorrow, same place.”
“See ya tomorrow.”
Then Zoot started countin’ all the way home.
bobby stevenson 2017