“We’re in pursuit of happiness
Order of the day
And we’re on, on a mission to make it true
We do it almost every day”
Part of the reason that I wanted to return to writing full time was to explore happiness and its true forms and causes. I have so many friends who are in so many different places right now and I am curious, as I grow older, how exactly we begin to reconcile the lives we have with the lives we wanted.
The album referenced above is a one-time fling by a collaboration of a beautiful vocalist, Rachel Foster, and one half of Groove Armada, Andy Cato. The entire album explores this pervasive feeling I’ve had for most of my 30s — these being the best days of our lives and resulting desire to grab ahold of them with as much exuberance as possible.
Several friends have gone through deep depressions in the past few years and others, including me, seemed to go through the same thing much earlier. I think those of us who had early onset lucked out because I don’t know that I would have even appreciated the things I had in my 20s. The factors that cause me to be where I am are too numerous to mention, but I know one thing for sure.
This isn’t “luck.”
I am continually baffled by the concept that life should reward those who don’t get out and grab ahold of it. Choosing not to get out of bed in the morning does not offer one any opportunity to grow or change. Life well-lived is chock full of risk.
In the last year, I made the switch to full time writer which is a source of inspiration to some and bafflement to others. It hasn’t been simple. Time management is a huge consideration. There is so much to do, to read, to learn, to see. I used to complain about corporate work/life balance, but this is a whole new animal. I can’t simply shut my brain down to stop writing at 5pm. But even with the challenges, there isn’t a moment that I’ve considered going back or even missed the old environment. I hit the new path running and never even thought about looking back. And this sort of happiness — this satisfaction — is something that I want to explore in my writing.
There are a lot of dichotomies to examine when looking at the satisfaction that we have with our lives:
- Who are we surrounded by? What do we need/want from them? Do we love them or simply tolerate them?
- Do we want what we have or have what we want or both?
- Do we have everything we want or nothing we want?
Love and friendship are crucial to a life well lived, but anyone who thinks that those relationships can just occur organically (with the exception of family) is, at best, cheating and at worst, lying. Few of the worthwhile relationships in life are uncomplicated. But the dirty hands result in a bond that is incredibly rewarding. It doesn’t happen quickly and half the time investments don’t yield. The problem seems to come when we begin to demand things of people that aren’t possible. It took me a long time to both understand and then accept that not everyone wanted the same kind of friendships that I did. Furthermore, each individual demands a different kind of friendship, different kinds of attention and care. Sometimes this feels natural and sometimes it feels very, very uncomfortable. But the more we take ourselves out of the center of the relationship, the easier this gets. It’s fascinating to see the range of where people are at in that respect in my own life.
The question of wanting and having is one that I’ve thought about since a pretty young age and I think it philosophically separates a lot of us. I think that it is true that we can learn to embrace our circumstances (to a certain extent) through personal narrative, although there are several caveats to this. The first is, of course, if those circumstances are causing physical or mental harm. The second is if you really have a dream that those circumstances are causing you to abandon.
The “dream” is also something that bears qualification. I’m not talking about wanting to be a ballerina starting at the age of 40, but a tangible, lifelong, qualified passion. Something that you CAN do and, really, MUST do to complete yourself. It is always worth finding a way to do this. But some people just want to do ‘something else’ and that isn’t the same thing as following your stars.
The last consideration from my list is really identifying when we are empty. It has been so long since I’ve had nothing that I can barely get back there, but I know it is possible. It is making sure that becomes an impetus for change that is the crux of the issue. Conversely, I think a life lived with everything one wants is equally as unrewarding. Without reaching, it is easy to become complacent. I knew that I wanted for nothing before I started my new career. But in order to have a chance to be fully and truly happy, I had to take away my security blanket. Was it scary? Yes. Was it worth it? Hell yes.