Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Happiness More Or

The Ashcroft
Happiness more or less
Is just a change in me
Something in my liberty

- The Verve, "Lucky Man"

* * *

A hundred years ago, while trying to find a way into a remarkable woman's pants, I'd sit and soak up her company any way I could, talking endlessly about anything she wanted to: old movies, our shared inability to sing, and the detritus of leaving the south side of Chicago. One night she told me of a movie from the thirties that ended with a final shot of a starry night sky and in the way of 1930's special effects how those stars re-organized themselves to spell out "HAPPINESS IS EARNED."

She laughed at the charm and earnestness of it.

I have never forgotten it. It seems the clue bag was open for me a hundred years ago.

* * *

If you are fucked, stuck and never getting to happiness, you've assumed happiness is a gift, a boon, bestowed, or an entitlement making its way to you. Thinking so you leave the agency of your happiness outside of your control and it never comes, never takes on flesh, never is anything other than an itch you cannot scratch. You torment yourself and anyone who has the misfortune to be near you because, goddamnit, you are deserving.

Except you aren't. Not as long as you think and act this way.

Happiness is earned.
Happiness is a change from what doesn't work, what isn't authentic to living solely by what is.

The problem for most of us fucked fuckers is that we mistake pleasure or ease with happiness. Nothing could be further from the truth than this formulation. Happiness is not something that can be pursued directly. Frankl posited that happiness could only ensue after pursuing a life devoted to a cause larger than one's self. He is not wrong.

What you can achieve and hold in your hand is, by definition, not happiness. What you can work for and give away is the source, root and well of your happiness. Acquisition and consumption are not enough to make it to happiness. The river has to run in reverse: give it - your work, your love, your better self - all away.

* * *

The change from a fucked life to an unfucked life, from pursuing happiness to letting it ensue, is entirely an internal process. This is how happiness is earned. You must submit to finding out who you are and what you love, what cause greater than yourself you are willing to live for. The answer for each of us will be different, as it must be. But answer it we must. Make no fucking mistake - you must answer it, or others will answer it for you and you will never know a moment's peace, rest, love or happiness.

A hungry ghost is all you are, is all you will be.


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