I always loved the Mr. Men.
Mr. Tickle was probably my favourite, because he had those really long, bendy arms that could reach across roads and into rooms to tickle people, which I always thought would be a really amusing thing to be able to do. I also loved Mr. Muddle, and Mr. Bump, probably because I identified with them even as a small child.
But Mr. Happy… he was a strange one. While it was completely plausible that someone could be constantly bumping into things or getting muddled about absolutely everything, it was much less realistic to imagine someone who was just happy all the time. I guess I just never really believed in Mr. Happy, y’know?
I am pleased to report that he does, in fact, exist. Last night, I met the happiest guy in the entire world, and after just a couple of hours in his company I was even starting to feel ridiculously positive myself, despite my week of doom and gloom.
I’d just been curling up in bed for the evening, planning another few hours of crying over old photos and so on, when one of my dorm companions came in and asked if I’d like to go for a few drinks with him and his friends. When the friends arrived, one of them turned out to be a travel writer, and before I knew it I was having an actual conversation for the first time in what felt like weeks (but was really just four days – misery apparently makes time crawl!).
The dreaded question came up pretty much straight away. What are your plans… how did you end up here? I decided to gulp quickly and just give a short, truthful answer accompanied by a don’t-expect-fun-and-laughter-from-me-but-please-don’t-leave-me smile. Oh, girl… we need to get you a beer! was the genuinely friendly response. Quite honestly, I did not feel like sitting in a pub with strangers. But there’s a stubborn part of me that wants to prove that I can survive this and get over it and “wash that man right outta my hair” as Grannymar said the other day. A sort of I won’t be beaten! mentality.
So off I went with several others to a quaint little underground pub, a maze of intimate rooms and alcoves, with soft lighting and gentle background music. We ordered a selection of Lithuanian beers, which were cheap and really good. And we talked about travel, shared our experiences, told stories, gave tips and advice. Oh – and laughed. I laughed, properly laughed, and it felt great. Go, me!!
And Mr. Happy? His name was Tomás, a sweet guy from Chile who’s out on his own like me. His eyes had a permanent happy sparkle, he smiled so much I was certain it had to be hurting his face, and he had only positive and encouraging things to say about his life, his experiences, and everyone he’d ever encountered. I felt almost guilty about my current state of heartbreak, and felt the need to apologise when he wanted to talk about me, as if I would drain away some of his joy or infect him with my melancholy. But he shook his head, and said in a delightful accent that made everything he said even more charming:
You must learn that it is OK to be sad. The Sad is not to be ashamed of. The Sad is a part of life. But it is to be a ladder to greater things, not a stone that is thrown at you and makes you fall. You must take The Sad and let it grow you. You must climb up. You must let pain make you stronger and wiser. The Sad is not your enemy unless you let it attach to you and choke you, and pull you down. You must feel The Sad before you can leave it behind you. Everything happens for a reason, it is true. But that does not mean you cannot have The Sad, for a time.
I almost asked him to repeat it all, so that I could record him for future reference. He made a real impression on me – so friendly and open and full of fun that his cheerfulness rubbed off on everyone there. It was a lovely night. Maybe I’m going to be OK after all.
The Sad will only be for a time.