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Friday, September 20, 2019

In May I returned home from my Pesach in Florida to find a white rabbit on my lawn. There are multiple wild rabbits that populate my front and back lawn during the warmer months of the year, but I had never seen a pure white rabbit.

I panicked. I have a love for animals that grew after we first got my dog, Ferdie. Upon seeing this little bunny I knew right away that he was homeless and did not belong in the rugged Teaneck outdoors. I made some calls and posted on social media to see if the little fella belonged to anybody.

When I couldn’t find an owner and the animal shelter could not come to pick him up (he only reared his head after hours), I decided to name him Felix and occasionally feed him some carrots and celery.

Five months later it continues to excite me each time I see Felix. I tend to stop and talk to him, feeding him and asking him how it’s going. A morning when I see Felix is generally a good morning. It gives me a little bounce in my step, this simplest of pleasures of spotting the white rabbit that has survived until this point, living off the lawns on Grayson Place.

This past week I was checking in with a client when I asked how she has been doing. She told me that rather than having tremendously high hopes that her life will turn itself around in a manner of days, she has been living according to small pleasures. Each day she goes out and does at least one thing that brings a smile to her face.

When we are faced with difficulty that leaves remnants of sadness and bitterness in our daily lives, we are confronted with the challenge of turning things around. I know that when something is wrong my first inclination is to fix it. I work to bring forth feelings of inner peace, experiencing the desire to know that I did all I could. And then, once I’ve done everything I can, I wait; I wait for the feeling of being broken or frustrated or confused to simply pass. But sometimes the waiting period is the hardest. When I was in recovery from anorexia, I pushed and pushed each and every day. Once I committed to working past my eating disorder, there were still many long months of pain and tears, of feelings of self-loathing and turmoil. I knew that I was doing all I could and yet internally I still was not at peace. And that was when my therapist reminded me that I needed to start living. It wasn’t simply that I could stop the negative behaviors, I also needed to incorporate more positivity into my life.

I started with little things. At the time, nothing really felt easy, but I was able to understand that I should push myself to do things that were somewhat enjoyable and that could bring some life back into my existence. I found books to read that I enjoyed. My father and I began fencing each week, a hobby that always left me rosy cheeked and smiling. And once I placed my foot on the boat of life’s little pleasures, the joy set sail.

Felix is one of those little pleasures. Each time I see him I brighten, knowing that he’s all right and munching on my grass like he always does. I’ve also learned that amid stress and deadlines and life’s little turbulences, having things that make me smile is key. I can still attempt to deal with each day as it comes, but knowing what helps me smile and that it is within reach is key. When it isn’t Felix, it’s doing something kind for a person who needs it. Or some days it’s sitting on the swings outside with a comforting song in the background. We can sit and wait for the major joys, for the celebrations and “happiness,” or we can create our own small happiness each day without depending on others.

Felix reminded me that the most mundane of things could put a skip in my step. My client reminded me that each day can be lived fully knowing that I can create some of my own happiness. There is a sign in my room that reads, “Your future depends on many things but mostly on you.” It is time we all live by this saying and find that even with the turmoil, we can smile each and every day because of something as simple as a white rabbit.

Temimah Zucker is a graduate student at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work and a counselor at EDTNY. Her passion lies in the field of eating disorders and she has a toy poodle named Ferdie. You can reach her at [email protected]

By Temimah Zucker