What Now?

| February 6, 2017 | 0 Comments

As Luck Would Have It…Or, “Happy” Valentine’s Day!

So, if I were living in pre-historic times, it might never occur to me to consider whether or not I’m happy. Better, back then, to be lucky. You know, to find food, versus to be food.

Historian and author Darrin McMahon (“Happiness: A History.”) says happiness has demonstrably changed over the years. Pre-historically speaking, one didn’t have the time, interest or energy to ponder questions of happiness.

Try survival.

You could hyphenate happy, but then you might reverse the whole thing: one could be “trigger-happy: i.e., bad for one’s enemies; or, “clothes-happy,” in which an obsessed person can shop herself into bankruptcy.

Happy, however, is surely what we want to be on Valentine’s Day, although, “happy,” oddly, does not always connect to love. Let’s face it, love doesn’t always make you happy. In fact, love can make you miserable. It can be unrequited. Obsessive. Unhealthy. Fatal (as in “Fatal Attraction”), ouch.

Not that we don’t advocate for love. When it works, doesn’t it expand, deepen, reinforce happiness? Yet, happiness? Love? Both highly iffy.

So, how are you? Truly, no matter how we are, in idle social intercourse, we normally respond to this idle (but polite) question: “fine, thanks!” We might even add, “and, you?” whereupon we’d get a similar answer. Now, you know that response is often just not true. My sister Mimi Chenfeld has never in her life responded with ”fine, thanks!” Her response is richer. More interesting.

Philosophical. Debatable. Maybe – fun? “ Other than life and death,” she may reply, “Sickness and health, war and peace, love and hate, I’m OK.” Not that she’s always so long-winded; another of her responses might as easily be, “When?”

Isabelle Walcher at 20 muses: “What’s the difference between happiness and contentment? I am generally more – and less – content with my choices and the people (and animals) I surround myself with. But, am I always ‘happy?’ Don’t think so, nor do I want to be!”

In the New Yorker, writer John Lanchester, reminded us that the Declaration of Independence asserts that “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” is one of our major pursuits, and rights.

But, rats. It’s so elusive, isn’t it? I say, we may believe in it, but let’s not depend on it. I might walk happily out of the house, only to meet a surly neighbor. I could happily play my flute ‘til I hit a wrong note. (That’s my imagination speaking, I never do that.) I could cheerfully run Fen round the ‘hood and suddenly have to retrieve him from some aggressive Boxer, thus swiftly eroding my happiness. Resonates, doesn’t it? And we won’t count the hundreds of other big and little occurrences in life that threaten our good moods.

So, my personal conclusion is – let’s don’t think about it too much. Let’s be grateful for “good” love, for bursts of happiness.

Compared to nearly all the rest of the world, we’re in great shape.

Lucky for us.


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