I suggest that, as soon as one starts to examine the nature of happiness, the actual experience of happiness becomes increasingly elusive. Like trying to capture a reflection, love or beauty will disappear as soon as one tries to touch them. Anything which is perceived as an ideal cannot stand close examination.
The thing about true happiness is that there are just moments. Life consists of a series of moments and some of them are utterly wonderful whilst most of the rest just serve to give you some sense of perspective – a few of them can almost let you see behind the façade that the world presents. The truth is that a great many things in life are really just shallow and empty but you don’t have to sacrifice yourself to the false gods that the world presents to you (and they’re all false) because there’s thought and depth and understanding. There is poetry in a leaf and beauty in a puddle. Love is all around.
Everybody strives for happiness (because nobody likes to be sad) but one does grow a great deal from having been down, I think – it adds another dimension to one’s perception because it gives a whole other perspective and even sadness itself can be achingly beautiful. There is so much nonsense in the world that people worry about which simply doesn’t matter and having had a view of the real darkness within can put that in some kind of relief. That’s what’s great about being sufficiently in touch with yourself to be able to analyse everything. Sure, there are downsides, but would you rather just sleepwalk through life?
The truth is that our lives are prisons which we build about us, denying ourselves the freedom to really live. We spend our youth designing them and laying the foundations and then, as adults, we move in and erect the walls around ourselves. We decorate them, adorning them with what we consider to be ‘personal touches’, but every material gain or emotional commitment is just another level of security, another lock which we have added to our cells.
Inside ourselves, we’re all still exactly the same people who we were when we were children. We’re more sophisticated and more jaded, sure, but we’re essentially the same. Our aspirations are lower because our dreams have faded and left us with little but memories of crushed ambitions and a few fond hopes which we scarcely dare to acknowledge. When we were young, happiness was easy; as we grow older, it becomes harder to believe. So we build up walls for security and then just end up sitting all alone in the dark, waiting for death’s cold finger to touch our scarcely beating hearts.
So what’s the solution? I haven’t found it but I would suggest that the only remaining freedom is freedom of thought and that we surrender that every time we tune-in to whatever sensual void the media is promoting or whatever charade the body politic is playing out before us. Let’s consider that the mind is an engine and that an engine only performs as well as the fuel that you run it on. Popular culture is, inevitably, the source from which ideas are born in the minds of the masses, and yet we are filling the tank with sugar and saccharine – it’s almost like drugging patients in a psychiatric ward to control their behaviour, except that most of us are self-medicating and live only for the next dose of the drug. Many people view heroin addicts with disdain but they’re only choosing a less mainstream, less corporate poison – and at least they’re literally living the dream.