Are you happy? I mean happy? You can tell me. I’m just an anonymous writer. Are you happy? Whisper it to me. You’re not? Well, what are you going to do about it? You just gonna sit there like a chump while the rest of us are living in the land of sunshine with fortune smiling down upon us? Get out there and get you some happy sistas and brothas!
I used to believe I was close to happy. I thought that I was so close that if my Dad would just loosen the purse strings and purchase this one, solitary item of the moment for me, it would launch me through the entrance of the land of hope and sunshine. This wasn’t a con game I was running. I believed that if my Dad would just purchase this one pack of Kiss cards for me, it would go a long way to helping me achieve an ideal state.
He told me “No” on more than one occasion (cue the dark and foreboding music), and there were even times when he would follow that ‘No!’ with a big old heaping pile of “Shut up!” (Cue the B roll with the creepy B actor, with bushy eyebrows that point inward, playing my Dad in this segment.)
A part of me believes that a part of my psychosis was developed in reaction to the constant “No’s!” I got from him. Another part of me wonders what kind of man I would be today if he purchased everything I wanted. Would I be a spoiled brat? Would I have some sort of obnoxiousness about me that expected to be able to have everything I wanted –deserved– regardless if I had to go into debt to get it? Would I be one of those ‘I deserve it’ adult babies that permeate our culture? Another part of me knows that I would’ve had to work my through whatever psychosis my Dad chose to inflict on me, and that I would end up in the exact same place I’m in right now.
The point is that almost all of us are on a point on the equator just south of happy. Most of us are not miserable, depressed, or depressed in the sense that we should seek diagnosis. Most of us are just a little unhappy, and a little unsatisfied with the way our lives turned out. We had incompetent parents; we lived in broken homes; we were the subject of bullying in schools; our grades weren’t what they could’ve and should’ve been; and if we were able to do it all over again … we wouldn’t want to go through it all over again.
We are who we are based upon what we’ve been through. Am I unhappy? No. Could I be happier? What do you got?
Was I unhappy in that temporary sense that every teen is unhappy when their parent tells them no? I’m quite sure that if a casting director spotted me in the dramatic aftermath of one of those denials, they would’ve had their guy call my guy, and “That kid’s got the goods,” is something they might have said.
My Dad did buy me some things, but did those things make me happy? I’m sure they did, but throughout my reflective examinations, I have found those moments to be absent in a conspicuous measure. I’m sure I received some sort of validation from those sparse moments in life, until the next time we went to the department store, and I had the same notion of being on the cusp of happiness again, and his decision of whether or not to make a purchase for me would land me in a land of sunshine once again, until he didn’t. At that point, the cyclical drama would begin again. The question is was I so unhappy in that my definition of happiness was dependent on my dad’s decisions in department stores?
What I thought I was talking about, when I talked to my Dad about making these purchases, was definition. I wanted to be a somebody that had a something that someone else had. I wanted to be a “have” in a world where I felt like a “have not”, and I knew that those “that have” are happier. I was also talking about fulfillment, whether I knew it or not. I was talking about a “quick fix” that would help me live with the self-imposed, teenage, “all hope is lost” problems that I had. I was talking about becoming a real player in a world of people that had products.
How many unhappy people get their Kiss cards and realize that that was it? One simple pack of Kiss cards, that cost about twenty-five cents back then, was all it took. That may have been thirty-five years ago, but I’m happy now. I reached the point, after all these years, of fundamental happiness. I have no wants or desires any more. I am what you could call a fulfilled man.
“And Dad, it was those Kiss cards that you purchased, when I was all but thirteen years of age, that accomplished that for me. I find it hard to believe too, but all I can say is, I told you.”
Are we happy people in a fundamental sense? Or, do we define fundamental happiness on the basis of attaining things? If we experience fundamental unhappiness, we may not know what caused it, but we know we need things, and change, and things that change us. We need constant change! Change for definition and redefinition, until we achieve the ideal state of being that we believe is forever beyond our reach, but one solitary purchase away.
Or, are we so bored with our lives that we need something to provide us a lift out of the tediousness of today, regardless what we did to get a lift yesterday? If we’re unhappy, in a manner we define, how do we achieve constant and fundamental happiness? What do we resort to? How do we define ourselves, and if we make sweeping changes, are we ever happy in the aftermath, or are we in need of more change?
A friend of mine resorted to drastic change. She needed it. She pursued it. She achieved it. The drastic change was so elemental to her makeup that she believed it bisected her personal timeline into a B.C/A.D. demarcation. When I ran into her –after years of separation in which the drastic change occurred– she no longer wanted to discuss the B.C. (before change) life that I knew. That discussion seemed irrelevant to her when compared to the A.D. (after decision) lifestyle that she was now living. She was no longer that person I knew. She had changed, and any observer could see that she was bored by my attempts to relive our past. The topic she wanted our focus on, regarding our discussion of the past, was how I thought all of the various characters therein would’ve reacted to her drastic change … if they had lived long enough to see it.
The question that I would’ve loved to ask her –as if I didn’t already know the answer– is did this fundamental change do anything to help her achieve greater fundamental happiness? The inevitable ‘yes’ would follow. Change is good, change is always good, but more change is better. Once she accomplished these drastic changes, was she able to wipe those memories of a rough upbringing off the slate? Yes she was. Did these changes accomplish everything she hoped they would? Yes they did. These questions would go to the very heart of why she decided to change, and very few would admit that they were an utter waste of time, but the greater question would be was this change so complete that she would no longer need drastic changes in future? I’m quite sure that the next time I run into her, she will have undergone a number of other, drastic changes, now that she’s married a man that can afford them for her.
Another question I would’ve loved to ask her is if she thought she could’ve achieved that same amount of happiness without the drastic changes? “Yes,” I’m sure she would say, “and I did try them. Nothing happened. I needed change.” O.K., but how much effort did you put into taking inventory of everything you have that should have made you happy, versus everything you could have that could make you happy? And how much of you have you lost pursuing these total transformations in a perpetual fashion?
If you run across that rare individual that admits that their transformational changes didn’t accomplish what they thought they would, they will have their remedy all ready for you: they need more change, other changes, and a change into something they hadn’t considered before to save them from what they were, or what they might become if they don’t change. They have too much invested in change now. There’s no turning back.
Are we ever happy? I mean happy! Or, is happiness a state of mind that will receive internal activation soon after a series of events occur in a very specific way that we define? We’re damaged, and we can’t fix it on our own. We have flaws, but there is hope. There is always hope. There is something we can change that can change us. We have the money. We have the technology. We can rebuild it. Better than we were before…Better…stronger…faster…happier…more money…a better job…a different job…change…more love…more sex…better sex…affairs…therapy…divorce…more change…drugs…alcohol…beauty…more beauty…better products…better supplements…more gym time…thinner…happiest…different change…tummy tuck…collagen injections…more colonics…boobs. More boob…better boobs…younger…better…thinner…better definition…more feminine…less feminine…more masculine…better implants…more beer…better beer…more food…better food…a better car…the rock and roll lifestyle…more gym time…more “me” time…change…focus on changing…more products…better trips…more reflection…greater self-indulgence…getting what you deserve…something different…I’ll try anything once…change…happiness…change…repeat if necessary.