The first time I contemplated the meaning of true happiness was back in 2001, when I really wasn’t that happy at all. I was a twenty-something wannabe writer, who was stuck selling high-end clothing and accessories to rich Upper East Siders; while receiving rejection letters in the mail and wondering when I will be able to finally show off my skills in a less restrictive way.
The era of being able to showcase your #dopeness courtesy of your writing prowess arrived more than a decade ago, but I’m still not happy.
Perhaps, that’s why when the lovesick Julie Gianni flirtatiously asked woman-magnet and publishing heir David Aames, “What is happiness to you David?” while driving the car that she ended up crashing, my attention was arrested by the realization that just like David, I wasn’t able to confidently answer what seemed like a purely simple question.
Vanilla Sky was a mind-fuck of a movie, and even after so many years later, there’s really nothing outdated about the concept of struggling between the realm of reality that usually challenges our ability to be consistently happy, and the alternative universe that is created through tunnels of curated engagement, based on elements that aren’t tangible.
Imagine the devastating loss for engagers who dwell on platforms all day into the night, in the bosom of increasing numbers, if we suddenly reverted back to the unsafety net of having to interact with humans on levels that can’t hide the glaring truth.
The obsession of wanting to be “happy” all the time, and pursuing whatever goals that will settle that outstanding detail once and for all, has taken a rather frightening turn, as we witness the emergence of blue badged experts who represent what wasn’t unattainable for them, due to their seamless grasp of how to remain happily verified.
For those of us who are unhappily unverified, we can’t help but notice how our misfortune translates when our best tweets become embarrassingly stale after hours of non-activity versus the blue-checked population, that get rewarded for their deposits of gems literally seconds after posting.
Not being worthy of ceremonial recognition via “like” buttons and army of retweets doesn’t fuck up my day. But what makes me less happy is the deepening hole in a spirit that wasn’t erected to depend on numerical spreadsheets as the qualifier for self-worthiness.
And things get even more chaotic and downright dark when you head over to the vibrancy of the Insta-Universe, where folks unabashedly claim a lifestyle they can barely afford. But images are priceless, and happiness is being able to pose in the stuff that isn’t yours, but can be if brands miraculously pick you out of the crowded landscape of identical fare.
I’m happiest when it occurs to me that I’m not in any way motivated to seduce more followers to rescue me from limbo, by guaranteeing that I won’t ever slide from 2,219.
Back when we had to “buy” bots to feel like proper humans with a score that at the very least qualified flesh and blood, there was a hovering misery that overwhelmed.
I was definitely not happy about the option to purchase the affection of strangers with lots of help from characters that need to add up to the amount that will attract the pleasing eyes of engagers, who will never accept your validation if the equation is lacking.
There’s plenty of joy in rebelliously taking ownership of who you are and what you’re not going to indulge in, despite the nagging evidence of how much more amazing it is when you give into certain tendencies that won’t permanently satisfy the hunger pangs for personalized consumption.
And after pondering and recalling the first half of my life that was spent without the tweets and Insta-worthy reminders of all the wonderful things and places that most likely won’t be mine to share — I’ve gratifyingly concluded that I actually don’t want to be happy.
This is mainly because of life’s habitual need to snatch away a perfectly fine situation, and mold it into an unrecognizable thing that you have to live with for the rest of your days.
Or you could be blinding your vision to the gloriousness around you, because your unrelenting search for the the loot that will supposedly complete the tale with that happy ending is seemingly just around the corner, and yet weirdly out of reach.
Spiritual nourishment that has been garnered through the merging of religions that speak the same language has helped to facilitate the last half of a chapter that contains themes that sustain the artfulness of a peaceful mind.
Diabolical geniuses, birthed in the swanky Silicon Valley, successfully wagered on the extreme lengths people will go in the pursuit of happiness, and the research results are public property with evidence of attention-seekers, who will risk soul and limb to retain enviable statuses that algorithms devise for that never-ending mission statement, that won’t ever yield the final tally.
Happiness isn’t just fleeting, it’s also dangerous, and I simply don’t want any part of it.
There’s freedom and mental flexibility in the practice of prophetically letting go of what can’t be altered or controlled, and reserving emotions for the people and items that warrant exactly what you have to offer — nothing more or less.
It’s depressing that most of you spend most of your time with online profiles that you will never see in the flesh, rather than real life contacts that don’t require logins and clicks to embrace.
I don’t want to be happy because I’m too busy living.
Embodying this thing called life is an engrossing privilege that doesn’t leave much room for the methodical plotting of how to locate the goldmine of unfiltered glee, that will hopefully never lose its luster without warning signs of impeding tarnish.
The ups and downs of emotions and the in-betweens that aren’t easily describable feel comfortingly human, and that discipline is enhanced by the drastically decreased amounts of alcohol, a clean diet, and experimentation with CBD-infused products that train me on how to make the good and the bad co-exist without initiating a bitter row.
There are no “best years of our lives,” there are just the years we’ve been mercifully assigned and the accumulation of knowledge that depicts how you were really on top of the world when you swore you were at the very bottom.
Being happy is neither here nor there, and if you don’t believe me, try asking that question about “happiness” and if you’re around 5 years later, ask it again.
We don’t need to be happy. We just need to live. And live well.