The value of happiness is both maddeningly relative and deeply personal to each of us. It’s importance is more apparent to some perhaps. Those with crystal clear, laser beam visions of the future they plan to establish for themselves, use it as a guide post I imagine, to keep themselves oriented in the direction of their goal. I’m not one of those. I have visions and goals of course, but they’re more a thing of cloud and mist: shifting, insubstantial, borne of natural forces. Happiness was never one of them.
After a tumultuous childhood, filled with plenty of love and brightness, but also with the endless uncertainty of being a single-parent child, I entered my drama-stuffed teenage years sufficiently drenched in an aura of woeful, rebellious blackness. Purposefully darkening our wardrobes and painting our lips black; most of the girls in my circle were happiest in combat boots and fishnets.
It never occurred to me to devote time to the practice of being happy. Partly because it ran counter to the counter-culture I considered myself a part of. Portraying the darkness inside of you through your clothes had a way of setting you apart, yes. But there were also certain behavioral expectations that went with the role. Smiling was not on the list.
Flitting from concert to concert, I was too busy to give the subject my full attention. I may not have been happy, but I was satisfied. I was able to experience massively cool things and go on trippy, rain-soaked ravine adventures without any of the friction or parental push back my peers had to deal with. And as an added bonus, being the “cool Mom”, my Mother actually knew where we were when we were “baking cookies for so-and-so’s Grandma” or “dyeing Angela’s hair; yes, it takes five of us!”. Even when the answer was watching concerts we weren’t old enough to attend — sometimes through walls, most memorably from the beaten dirt of the horse-racing track back when The Finish Line was still a thing in Cloverdale.
Didn’t expect all that to come rambling out, but it happened. I’m trying to be more authentically me after two years of the opposite. This is what you get. I have a habit of bounding down any mental fox trail that interests me. My narratives twist and tangle in the winds generated from the raging cyclone that is the creative part of my mind; a storm as deeply rooted and endlessly spinning as Jupiter’s Great Red Spot.
Back to happiness and its innate value. I’ve lost sight of it. Numerous times. The most recent occurrence left rubble-strewn devastation in its wake. I’m still picking up the pieces, but from them I’ve learned a valuable lesson. More than one really.
Happiness is a worthwhile investment of time. If there’s someone in your life who delights in your misery, never hesitate to excise them completely from your life as instantaneously as you can muster. It took me too long to decide to pursue positive change in my life, but I’m so glad that I’m on my way now.
Each day takes me farther away from the hopelessness that tried to take hold of me and closer to my goal of moving on. I look forward to the day when it becomes just a part of the tapestry of my life and not something that haunts me daily. I’m still working my way through the damage and part of that will be telling my side of the story, I’m sure. Probably here.
But, right now it’s about beginnings, not endings. And happiness. So many things to focus on so little time. Choose wisely, my friends.