Jean Rhys II (freewriting 1.11)

Natalie’s prompt: When was the last time you were happy, really happy? Write for ten minutes.

Happiness means something different every time I experience it. Lately all that would be labeled “happy” has an undercurrent of sadness that jostles such moments back toward the hard beach of reality. I’ll smile at an anecdote during a conversation or when I see my grass starting to green up and my wife’s tulips reach toward the sun, but then I remember the bills that need paying, or the imminent layoff at work and ponder what life will hold for me if my name shows up on the list this time. Or my bad teeth. Then my gaze will darken, I’ll lower my head and swallow the laugh that used to be so powerful and contagious, and remember that I’m not supposed to be happy. The sirens will sing their song, the words of which are always annoyingly the same – “There’s nothing to be happy about.”

Recently I went online to sign up for fall classes only to learn that both the classes I needed, available at times when I could squeeze them in, were full. In desperation I sent an email to both professors explaining my sorry situation, and they both worked with me to get me registered. I even managed to sign up for a summer class with a professor and friend I adore and respect. So I guess you could say I experienced happiness. Though now I fret about all the gas that I’ll need to make the trip to school each day, and the fact that it’s been three years since my last semester of Spanish and I’m rustier than the Titanic. But the thought of digging deep and finding out if I’ve still got what it takes to do well in school, raise four kids, love my wife, work somewhere and pay for it all, while overwhelming, has a thin silver ring of happiness around the edges. And I guess that’s about all the happiness I can hope for.

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5 thoughts on “Jean Rhys II (freewriting 1.11)

  1. Well, sorry to say, for me to think of the last time I was truly happy, was 5 months ago. Too long? It was at the airport when I thought my husband for sure might not wait for my late plane. But he was there and seeing his face was bliss. Now as I look back, I wonder what all the fuss was about. But love is funny that way. Situations get in the way even when we purpose to be happy. Now with immigration issues, missing cheeseburgers and BBQ, and clean beautiful houses, it is too difficult to even smile- except at myself sometimes. I’m sure God is laughing up there at my funny ways. At least someone is happy.

  2. Hm. A beautiful and sad twist.

  3. Happiness is based on circumstances and as such is fleeting and not able to be grasped and kept in a box somewhere on a shelf. . I think we confuse happiness with joy and joy with happiness. Happiness only requires a momentary incident to trigger an emotional positive charge. Nevertheless, joy can be and is experienced in pain and misery.

    If you are focused and working toward an attainable goal that you know you will reach, then each milestone you meet along the path toward that goal can bring you joy in the midst of the pain of struggle. As long as you look at the big picture and not the momentary bumps on the road, joy will always be your companion despite the circumstances.

    Now back to the question. I was really happy last month while visiting my son. I was able to revel in the person he had become in spite the predictions from the “false” prophets (Or were they false “profits?”) who said he would never amount to anything. I here the voice of this fifth grade teacher who told me he would never be anything because he had not memorized his timetables. The last time I looked, I do not think being a Boeing Engineer is nothing.

  4. Prity,

    Thanks for your comments. Instead of happiness, I tend to think of things in terms of peace. I find myself peaceful in many situations despite the apparent lack of happiness.

  5. hi. thanks for leaving such thoughtful comments on my blog. your writing’s tremendous. i think i like the freewriting the best. it seems kind of like writing wherever your heart takes you.

    — lissa (aka turtlefly)

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