Striving to be happy

It’s been an emotionally draining couple of weeks for me recently, and as a consequence I haven’t put that much effort into updating here or writing in general. One of the big problems of emotional turmoil is that we tend to sideline everything else, wallowing in our self pity, in our angst, in our fear, in our sorrow. We don’t take the time to acknowledge the problems outside of that or to see the hope that lives outside of this small ball of grief we have put ourselves in. This, in itself, makes sense. We want to deal with the most important thing to us and that’s the thing that’s currently dominating our thoughts. It does need time and attention to deal with and it does need effort to work to find a solution.

But that’s not what we’re doing when we play the songs that we know will make us sad, when we look over old photographs, or play back the bitter sweet memories in our head. What we’re doing is clinging on to the past that little bit longer. It’s the same as pressing the snooze button and bringing the duvet up over your head to block out the sunlight. You know you have to get up but you want three minutes more. Three minutes more sleep, please, you think, knowing full well that no one ever had three minutes of good sleep ever. I’d be willing to allow thirty, twenty, ten, but three? No. At that point it’s clinging on to the dream for the sake of it. That’s what all this moping and grief is for. To cling onto what was ours once and is slipping away, to cling tightly so that we can cover ourselves in it once more before it is gone forever. It’s morbid.

That’s not to say there’s not legitimate cause. When someone we love dies, there’s a necessity of preservation, of recollection, of grieving. That’s normal and healthy and no one should try to take that from you. But I don’t mean, quite, such serious bereavement. Nor do I mean to take away from any grief, any sorrow. They are legitimate, they are necessary. There are things in this world that make us sad. There are too many things in this world that can makes us sad.

What I mean is, because there are so many things that make us sad, why prolong the agony longer than you have to? Why seek out cause to weep? I don’t want to generalise, because that wouldn’t be useful, all I can say is that in my own situation I know I’ve been extending the pain by feeding it. I’ve been working to make myself more unhappy. Today I did the opposite. I went out and sought the things that make me happy, that I enjoy. I got on with projects and I saw friends. I made time for me and the things I love in the midst of all the crashing, clashing emotion.

I still felt sad. It would be hard not to. I wrote poems that probably no one will see for a while, because at best they’re based on misrepresentations of what has happened, and at worst they’re self indulgent, whining, wheedling, and miserable excuses for literature. One day it may be time for them to see the light of day. That won’t be soon, though, because I need to stop feeding my sorrow. I need to go out and be in the world. I had this thought when I was wandering that if I could connect to the brains of everyone in a mile radius, I’d find hundreds upon thousands of people who felt what I was feeling, or something similar. Loneliness and loss, pain and sorrow, anger, disappointment, rage and a yawning chasm of emptiness. But more than that, I knew that I would feel hope. The will to continue. The determined grip on the cliff top as the sinews strain and the grass tears from its roots.

I needed that. It made me remember that I need to feel the hope of the world. I need to appreciate this rare gift of life. It comes to us once, let’s use it to strive to be happy.

4 Responses to “Striving to be happy”
  1. Jack Palmer "father of the redoubtable Nick!!! says:

    Nil bastardum carborundum..there is always someone worse off than you…

    • Nick says:

      How true. Easy to forget that there is comfort in comforting others, hope in giving others hope. The only failure is the failure to try.

  2. “When you’re chewing on life’s gristle, don’t grumble – give a whistle…”

    You’re one of life’s thinkers, Nick; it’s a blessing because it makes you the writer and the person and friend you are, but it also means you’re predisposed to dwell on things. But you’re absolutely right – it’s important not to get caught in the trap of *always* dwelling on things. And if you can manage that to any extent, when every instinct is urging you to wallow, then you’re doing well enough.

    • Nick says:

      Thanks, Martin, that’s lovely. And you’re right, some days you can’t expect to be running along life’s road, but if you can’t run then limping will do. Crawling, even, would be better than lying still. Thanks for commenting 🙂

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