I live next door to a chinese restaurant. And I love it.
It's next door so it's handy for picking up food when I'm flush enough to be able to afford a takeaway. Their food is actually really good and their roast pork chow mein is to DIE for. They're also very nice people and let me have a little discount (only about 5% but still a nice gesture on their part I feel) and when my toilet was blocked, they let us use their toilet when firstborn was toilet training. I love living next door to a chinese restaurant but it's not for any of those reasons.
I love it because of the birthday parties.
Every now and then they get a group in for a birthday. They have a special offer in that the birthday person eats for free, so it's a very popular place for birthday meals. And every now and then, in amongst the general hum of chatter that I can hear through the very thin wall dividing us, I suddenly hear someone clearing their throat and I know it's time to pause what I'm watching or turn down my music and then it begins. A rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday To You". And I love it. After everyones sang the song and the birthday guy or gal has blown out the candles on his kung-po birthday cake everyone claps and cheers and occasionally there's a few hip hip hoorays and I like hearing it. I like knowing that just feet away from me, behind the wall that keeps my living room separate from the dining area of a chinese restaurant, someone is experiencing a moment of true happiness. A moment of clarity where they feel contented that everyone is there for them, to celebrate their birthday with them and generally have a good time before leaving that place and returning to the hum drum routine of every day modern life, all the problems they may be experiencing, all the sadness and sorrow and difficult times.
I don't know these people and I doubt I ever will, but for a moment, while they sing, I feel connected to them in some way and even though I'm not there with them (would be weird if I suddenly burst in and joined in singing to a complete stranger...) I'm sat here smiling, because hearing that and knowing that someone out there is happy for a moment, well it makes me happy too. Because there's so much crap in the world, so much chaos and death and destruction, that we rarely take a moment to stop and see what we have to be happy about. What we should take joy in. And so every moment of happiness should be grabbed with both hands and appreciated with all the appreciation you can muster. And it should be used as a crutch to get through the bad times. And sometimes, listening to someone doing something as simple as celebrating a birthday, well sometimes it just reminds me that there are people out there who are finding strength to carry on somehow, and so maybe I can do the same, if I just remember to appreciate the good times and look after what I have got.