The Australasian Religious Press Association gala awards night Saturday 29 August in Brisbane saw Press Service International (PSI) New Zealand young writer Casey Murray awarded 'GOLD' for Category 10 "Best Column or Blog" with her article 'Because I'm happy – kind of'.
This astonishing feat – Casey Murray having her article being named the BEST column out of all Religious Media in Australia and New Zealand in 2014 – is really spectacular! Words can hardly do it justice!
It came about as PSI editor Sophia Sinclair (Sydney) was requested by me to nominate the best young writers for seven ARPA categories last May from all 2014 articles - when they were submitted ARPA judges made their determinations from all entries.
'Silver' for Category 10 went to Alison Sampson for Zadok Perspectives titled "Everyday spirituality" and 'Bronze' Gillian Watkin from Touchstone titled "From the backyard".
Interestingly, Casey Murray's article 'Because I'm happy – kind of' was named by the New Zealand Panellists last year as equal her best article cited at the 2014 annual young writer awards - when Casey Murray won the Basil Sellers NZ $1000 Award.
This ARPA "GOLD" illustrates that the PSI Panellists were likewise on the ball with Casey Murray's 'Basil Sellers' win last year.
Casey's Murray's article winning ARPA GOLD - Saturday evening 29 August.
Because I'm happy .... kind of
by Casey Murray (published 3 April 2014)
I have too many clothes. I tried to cull my wardrobe, but I have too many nice things that I can't bring myself to get rid of. I just moved house and the sheer volume of clothes to move was a royal pain in the derriere.
I am on a work trip in Sydney staying in a nice hotel, but the hair dryer makes my hair go flicky and no-one picked up when I called for room service – twice I might add.
One of my fingernails broke and the nail polish on my toenails is chipped.
I can't eat the Strawberries and Cream lollies because they have gluten, so I have to have the flake chocolate bar instead (coeliacs 4 lyf).
My thighs are too big, my boobs are too small and my left eyelashes just aren't curly enough.
These are the first world problems that, with their powers combined, transform from minor frustrations into WORLD-ENDING-CALAMATIES that plague my mind and ruin my day.
Given the ridiculousness of these complaints I have to ask myself: what will it take for me to just be happy?
Are you happy?
If I asked you to pick the one that you think you need to make you happy, how quickly could you answer? If you're anything like me, the number one thing will instantly come to mind. Then you'll stop and think "actually, that would be nice as well... and that would make me happy... and I would definitely be happier if that wasn't an issue." Then suddenly I am back to having a long list of things that 'need' to be attained or fixed before that elusive happiness can be reached.
The problem is that even though the absence of these things makes me unhappy, I know that having them wouldn't necessarily make me completely happy either. But still I pine for them. Ah, the eternal troubles of the irrational mind.
So what exactly am I looking for here? If my 'happiness' is so fragile that even a fingernail has the power to dislodge it, is it the best thing for me to pursue? Is the pursuit of happiness the best basis to make decisions on?
A Fleeting Revelation
The thing about writing articles about these kinds of topics is that no matter what I say, no matter how deep my self-reflection is I know I'm just going to go back to my old habits.
No matter how many times I'm reminded that I'm "beautiful just the way I am", I'm still going to be grumpy the next time I put on a dress and look at my legs in the mirror. No matter how many times I tell myself not to sweat the small stuff, I'm still going to want to cry when someone eats gluten-tastic food in front of me. And the more I worry about whether or not I am happy, the more I find things to be unhappy about.
The Temporary High
Happiness is a rollercoaster. It can flip in an instant. A surprise bunch of flowers can bring great joy, a misbehaving printer can have you tearing your hair out just as quickly (and in my office it regularly does). It is precarious and often situation-dependant.
Rather than happiness, in my life I hope for contentment. When the people, activities and things that make me happy aren't there, I still want to feel content with my life and who I am. When the inevitable disasters strike – even the irrational and petty ones – I still want to have a solid foundation so that I don't fall apart.
If I'm going to get extra deep, perhaps a loftier goal is to strive for integrity. The strength to hold my head up through the unhappiness, the confidence to recognise and embrace happiness whenever I can, and the desire to share it with loved-ones and strangers alike. As I invest in the people around me, pursue my passions and stay true to myself and my beliefs, the moments of happiness will come.
Because I am happy... Kind of.
From all of us at Press Service International
PSI editor Sophia Sinclair knew what she was about when she nominated Casey's article for Category 10. The Panellists last year likewise knew what they were doing when they elected this article as Casey's equal best (the other equal best was 'Sex isn't my fault').
Now the ARPA judges have likewise elected Casey GOLD. Brilliant! I have never ceased encouraging and supporting Casey's writing - exceptionally gifted!
At the Melbourne 2013 young writer conference I stated to all the young writers how I was passionate for Casey's writing and development quoting one part of one of your articles as being symbolic of where I was philosophically in my own walk with Jesus.
Now quite independently ARPA has affirmed my own judgement.
Thankyou Casey for being part of the young writer team for 2013-2014. I as chief editor of Press Service International would be delighted should you wish to return (we had 7 New Zealand young writers move on in late 2014 and have picked up 6 in 2015).
Australian 2014 'Basil Sellers' winner Danielle Stott likewise stepped aside and is returning in September after an eight month break, I for one would be immensely delighted should Casey Murray likewise return.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html