So I took a philosophy course once. It didn’t scare me.
So the cranky professor gave us the assignment to write an essay on the topic “What is happiness?” Oddly enough, I’d never considered the question before.
I was raised by….well….not very happy people. Happiness was for the lucky and the strong. Happiness made you weak. Why the heck was I starving myself to pay for a college education when they were having me write silly things like “What is happiness?” I didn’t figure either question out in time. Flunking that class was reason number 329 why my academic career went down the toilet.
And Jean Valjean never did drag me out either.
If happiness was ever talked about when I was young, it was always in the context of “We live in misery in this life, so that we can be happy in the next.” Or in the context of “movie stars and millionaires are happy, the rest of us are miserable.” At first it all made sense, especially when I was trying to be Spock, but eventually, I realized, if I can’t be happy, or if someone I love can’t be happy, then what is the point?
So I’m basically talking out loud to myself.
That confused young man was in his early twenties. Now I’m fifty, and I wonder if I’m really any closer.
Lots of controversy abounds on this question. Some say that if you pursue happiness you will never find it. It is when you give up that it falls in your lap. Others say that if you don’t know what you are aiming at, you are like a rudderless ship, with a virtually zero percent chance of getting anywhere you want to be.
I know I peeved off some friends, or at least mildly irritated them, with my last post. I won’t apologize. Everyone says I apologize too much. Whether that is true or not, I don’t feel like I own anyone an apology for stating what I feel, especially when I at least made more effort to be fair to both viewpoints than most people make. But having said that….I also know that a big part of happiness is our relationships.
Ironically, Spock was likely one of the happiest people on the ship. He had incredible life time friendships. He was fiercely loyal, by Christian standards “great love hath no man.” Kirk was right when he said that Spock, amongst all the beings he had met in the universe, was one of the most human.
Someone I really respect (even though they hated my last blog post) says that happiness is faith and love. For lack of better inspiration, let’s explore that idea.
I think for faith to lead to happiness, you have to have faith in the right…..thing. If there is a God, you need faith in God, if there is not, you need faith in whatever is the closest thing to God there is. I won’t get that knot untangled tonight. Too close to midnight. And frankly, the same goes for love. If I fell in love with the lady from Casino I’m in for a lifetime of misery. Or at least a long while of misery. But if I fall in love with a good woman who loves me back, then there is at least a glimpse of happiness.
My answer for now? Be as worthy of love as you can. Seek the Truth as best you can. Those who show you love, give them back as much as you are able. And don’t take yourself too seriously.
Hopefully I am not a hypocrite to quote Mother Teresa:
People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.