When you’re lying on a golden beach looking out on turquoise water you don’t expect to see a pig body-surfing.
Perhaps that’s why the dozens of other people I was sharing the Maui sand with didn’t see it, or dismissed it as a dog and stopped watching it. But after the animal caught a big wave, rode into shore and the surf retreated, there was no doubt what remained on the beach was a fuzzy, black pig.
Although I was on vacation with my family, I wished I was working.
This month marks a year since I started doing stories for the end of the six o’clock news. Every day a cameraman and I search for entertaining or inspiring people and help tell their unexpected stories.
We meet people randomly while driving around and looking. Initially, our only rule was to try and not stop driving. If we hit a red light, we’d turn right. If we hit a four-way stop, we’d turn left. We attempted to leave it up to fate while looking for something unique to catch our eye. Sometimes it takes five minutes, sometimes it takes two hours. But we always find somebody with something extraordinary to share.
A year later, we now know it’s not about driving or looking. Finding happy stories is about seeing.
When I saw the exuberance of the pig and the sparkle in the eye of the man swimming with it, I saw there was something more.
I asked the man the pig’s name. He said it was a Native American name meaning bringer of joy. He said he met the pig in the Hawaiian hills while living off the land. The man was eating a wild pig he’d just killed, when his dog ran into the bush and dragged out a baby pig. The man realized he was dining on its mom, and assumed the baby would soon die. So he put the piglet in a sack and used it for a pillow that night. He was surprised to find it still alive the next morning. Impressed by its will to live, the man nurtured the baby back to health. During that process something remarkable happened to the man – he felt something he’d never felt before. After enduring a life-long, debilitating depression that forced him to live alone, the man says he felt joy for the first time. He continues to feel it, which is why he’s committed to caring for the pig for the rest of its life.
It’s the type of story we feel fortunate to share on TV daily. It’s also the type of story you can see on your own. If you’re having a bad day – or are stuck in a rut – look for happiness and you’ll see it. It may be hard at first. But the happiness will be there.
Even if you are the type of person who won’t see a glass as half-full until pigs fly, know that at least it’s possible to see pigs surf.
Adam Sawatsky is co-host of CTV News Vancouver Island at Five. On weekends, he hosts ‘Eye on the Arts’ on CFAX 1070.