Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Pursuit of Happiness

(First off the bat, how surprised are you that I was irritated by the typo in the Will Smith movie title to which I am now reacting? It's not even relevant to the story!)

Did you know that Paulo Coelho (aka 'him wot wrote that Alchemist book') has a blog? Sure he's not one of my favourite writers, nor would he be on my top ten writer/blogger wishlist (No. 1 - Oscar Wilde; no. 2 - Gabriel Garcia Marquez; no. 3 Bret Easton Ellis... don't make me go on...) but the fact remains that the man's got mad wordsmithing killz and so I was very intrigued to stumble across it. Check it out.

Anyhow, the post that set me back on the on/off path that has been blogging is his latest post, provocatively monikered "Joy is like sex". Huh. After my mind, which has been pretty darn filthy of late, allowed me to silent chortle while wondering if the 'like' was superfluous and extend the metaphor in both puerile and semi-intellectual manners (was so tempted to write some these up!) I read it and it smacked me right in the mind hole. I won't attempt to paraphrase the whole lot in any detail, I don't want to do Senor Coelho any injustice and I want you all to read it, but the crux of it is this: "Joy is like sex – it begins and ends." In this case, 'joy' being happiness. The state of being happy.

Quite honestly, this is not a concept of which I had previously thought. I honestly struggle with trying to 'find happiness'. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a prologue to a suicide letter, but rather just one of the many mini-crises I undertake every so often. Maybe that's the point, and why the blog post spoke so much to me. I think about it every so often: interspersed with what I had previously classified to myself as flights of fancy or distractions. My bids to be entirely selfless for extended periods of time ended in frustration, my admittedly docile attempts to be hedonistic lose steam a lot faster (the latter feels rather less comfortable than the first). My interests make me dive to the deep end of obsession then want to get out of the pool mere minutes later. I wonder 'why?' so very often I'm surprised still find the time to live my life. And more often than not I lose interest in a perfectly wonderful girl a few dates into a relationship (in a lot less terrible way than it sounds, hopefully y'all know me a little better than that by now).

But perhaps that's OK. Not for everyone is that blissful nirvana that puts a permanent grin on their face for years until they pass away, no less joyful than the decade before. Perhaps not for me is the deep-set satisfaction of having a raison d'etre to sink my teeth into. No, instead for now I shall satisfy myself in the knowledge that I am not alone is this seemingly futile search for the elusive lifetime of happiness, and keep on searching. Keep hopping along the stepping stones of pleasant conversation, shelter under the boughs of family and friends and find solace in the sunsets and beauties that the world occasionally tosses my way.

Che sera sera.

p.s. I've missed writing! Yeah, sure I might 'write reports' for a living now (they're treating me with kid gloves though and not giving my much to do, I feel like I'm going to claw my eyes out with boredom sometimes!) but it is nothing like the joy I get from writing what I want, when I want, just for me. I'm going to write more these days, if only as cathartic relief and another rope to the lifeboat of happiness. Thanks for the kick up the arse, ALH! x

5 Response to The Pursuit of Happiness

30 March 2010 at 10:58

It's an interesting point about happiness, because when you think about it, a lot of things are sort of "structured" as it were like sex. I'm going to resist the temptation to make dirty jokes, but hunger for example: you get temporarily obsessed with something and think you'll never have enough, until you do and you're "satisfied" and then food is the furthest thing from your mind. Most relationships: you can't imagine ever not wanting them until a certain point, after which you can't remember why you liked them. A lot of the things that make us happy are thrilling until they're boring.
It must be something about the way our brains are wired, something to keep us moving on from one thing to another, some survival instinct. Yet our minds still don't understand this and we go through each heartbreak like it's never happened to anyone ever before....

30 March 2010 at 15:11

I can't believe you used "y'all" in this post. Is my southern Georgian nature rubbing off on you?

Also, to put it simply, because I simply can't write out a whole other post in your comment box, I've come to find that happiness IS the pursuit of happiness. That's how I see it now. The good, the bad, the ugly all involved in "getting there" ARE the good parts. We yearn for the experiences that will eventually lead us to "where we want to be" never realizing that the journey is that "where." Or at least that is what I've found in my own life after much soul searching :) So enjoy the ride.

2 April 2010 at 02:16

I definitely agree that its all part of the ride- even if i forget sometimes and get too focused on some goal.

3 April 2010 at 03:17

@Kat - Haha by all means go as dirty as you want. I was myself tempted to extend the metaphor much further than Coelho, for instance how one goes deeper and deeper in the quest for happiness until they're spent and made weary by the activity. And maybe it is something to do with the way we're wired: we are some of a wandering species to an extent, always exploring, always looking for the experience that exists over the ridge in the horizon...

@ALH - You may have rubbed off on me a little but you surely can't be taking credit for my use of colloquialisms? You're not the first Southerner I've come into contact with! :D I actually like the sound that word makes. It just rolls off in a satisfyingly lazy way!

Mmm yeah, I try to enjoy the ride as much as I can because, well, what if the ride is it? Why spend life looking for a hypothetical situation when it could be lived instead? But you know, I just can't help thinking about these things.

@Chocoholic - Exactly. Sometimes it's all too easily to get caught up in the finish line and forget to focus on the run.

4 April 2010 at 21:57

Getting caught up in the run is the only way to avoid getting to 80 and looking back wondering what happened. I don't know if there'll ever be a defining moment from which point we'll feel absolutely certain that we've "achieved happiness" - I think all we can do is make the most of every big and little thing life throws our way. I loved your last paragraph. Also? HATED the stupid typo in the movie!!