When I was little, my mom would randomly ask if I was happy. I knew the reasons why she asked. It could have been the need to validate that the big move from the old country was worth it. Maybe it was a very honest look to make sure she was doing everything she could as a parent, providing and teaching. But to me, no matter how she followed-up on the question, could be no other response. Of course. I mean, we have food. We have, food. Bananas are dirt cheap and we can get them anytime. I have opportunity. Shit we all do. I’m going to school without a/ uniform, a political agenda, openly racist teachers, can believe what I choose, and choose what I become. Everything that I wasn’t or we haven’t accomplished yet seemed like a process, an experience, and a transformation, which itself to me was happiness.
One of my favorite movies is The Pursuit of Happiness. I have seen it probably ten times, and most of those with my kids. I don’t know why it still chokes me up. Probably because I can relate to some of the struggles and sacrifices of Chris Gardner, and as a parent can only hope that what my kids witness makes them better men. Maybe because Will Smith is a great actor, and you can not only see the pain in his eyes, but the drive in his soul. The driven determination to be and do better. When you have walked that fine edge of becoming and failing, and subjected your kids to the only option you can possibly envision, there is no happiness as a mere end result. There is only the pursuit, which should make you whole.
For most of us who have been to the proverbial suck, anything that would be a consideration of happiness by a typical human being is almost nonsense. To hell and back is definitive of what we are, and we want more of it. Our happy place is a dynamic and shifting low light labyrinth of challenges, with every cleared room and corner helping us get to and through the next. Some would say this is an abusive and self-destructive perception. But who are they and what do they know? If every step makes you be who you need to be, and builds on the entire movement, isn’t that the idea?
To look for happiness as only an end result of everything you work for is almost absurd. What defines happiness for you? Is it the one moment in time you succeed? Just that one? And then what? Is happiness a combination of little moments, highlights in your book of life? What about the other pages, trips, failures, journeys, credits? I often feel guilty if I am too busy or too tired to look up and appreciate the night sky. I think most people, even if appearing superficial, appreciate the fact that being able to go through life grateful, to put forth the energy and leave something better than you found it, is happiness. And then the pursuit itself isn’t something you’re really chasing, it is something you’re willingly shoving in front of you and asking “can I get it again?”
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