I have moments of happiness. I even have periods of happiness. But I don’t have sustained happiness. It’s fleeting.
Sometimes I wonder if there’s something wrong with me. Like, I have a “happiness deficiency” or something. Like having “iron-poor blood” or something like that. Maybe it’s a chemical thing. And if it is, I doubt there’s a cure. I always figured all this “drugs” and “medication” stuff was bullshit. Because what we really want is a pill that makes us happy. A happy pill. But science has failed to deliver. All their efforts have been way short of the mark (he reports, bitterly, after 40 years of diligent research).
Then, other times I just think: “That’s just the way of this plane of existence.” It’s a “yin-yang” universe after all. Pain-pleasure. Up-down. High-low. Win-lose. Happiness-unhappiness. There’s some kind of balance-of-opposites at work there. And maybe, the more happiness you get, the more life will dole out a corresponding measure of unhappiness to balance it out. I’ve known several extreme hedonistic types in my life. And the more they chased after pleasure, the more pain they seemed to end up in. Ironically. So maybe it’s like a dog chasing after it’s own tail. The more you chase after happiness, the more it eludes you. Maybe you just have to accept with equanimity whatever life happens to dish up at every moment. Accept happiness and unhappiness with equal aplomb.
But still, I sure with there was some way to increase my supply of the damn stuff. Happiness.
I remember something the millionaire rock promoter Bill Graham once said later in his life, speaking about a crippling period of depression (which is just a fancy name for the lack of happiness) that nearly short-circuited his life: “The mistake I made was, I mistook pleasure for happiness. You get pleasure from buying a brand new car. But you don’t get happiness.”
The Hindus have this concept that there’s sort of a psychic wheel in the chest of our hearts. And all the different emotions are on the wheel. Love, hate, happiness, sadness, jealousy, anxiety, etc. And through the course of our days, the wheel just randomly and methodically spins from one emotion to another. Which I guess is an apt metaphor for the fleeting nature of our emotional states. I notice I often feel sad or contented or whatever, for no discernible reason.
I remember something Jim McMahon, the Chicago Bears quarterback, once said. He said he strived for years and years, working like a dog in the hopes of winning the Super Bowl. That was his one major goal in life. And he finally did it! He said he was absolutely euphoric for two whole days. And then it faded away. He was right back where he started. He couldn’t believe it. All that blood, sweat and tears. For just a couple of fleeting days of happiness. And that was it. . .
Maybe that’s one of the big differences between men and women. Men think they’re going to attain happiness by their accomplishments. But women seem to try and get it by focusing more on their emotional states of mind.
Oh well. At least our Constitution guarantees us the pursuit of happiness. Though it sure doesn’t guarantee us the attainment of that happiness That’s for damn sure.