I think the internet and Hollywood really did a number on our happiness. Think about it. Is it the happiness we always think about? Because I think our culture wants us to chase something that is overstated. Like love. When characters fall in love in the movies, it’s a whirlwind of emotions. It’s an intense, palpable feeling of god-I-fucking-love-you. It’s wonderful… in movies. But love in your thirties is cruel. It’s complicated and prickly – Your veteran age affords you many things, one of those being negative experiences. Battle scars from life that imprint your behaviour and colour your world-view. And if you’re both full of spiritual wounds from the arrows of life, you approach each other with the care and ease that one might approach a roaring, angry gorilla. That whirlwind of romance is a million miles away from real life, but we accept that disconnect because our culture is supposed to be magical.
But the sad misery of life is that we hurt each other forever until the good feelings don’t feel very good any more. Real relationships are less about explosive emotions and more like moss slowly growing and encapsulating a rock. You proceed at a snails pace until you’re so infected in each other’s lives that being apart feels painful. That’s real love, adult love. You don’t fall in love, you hate them less than the others. Don’t be mad about it, it’s okay. This is fine. We just need to accept it. It might not be as exciting and rock n roll as it is in cinema but so what? Doesn’t make it less real… or less hurtful.
It’s an ideal. Right? Ideals are what make us tick. It’s why we continue to vote even though we know these bastards will drop us in lava as soon as they can. It’s why nihilism and existentialism has been a constant template for my adult life. I keep getting up despite the arrows of life pinning my feet to the floor. We do this because, well shit, what else are we gonna do?
I think we’ve coated happiness with the same rose-tinted bullshit as we have with Love. Happiness, like Love, is not some Hollywood ideal in the real world. It’s not any one thing. It’s amorphous, it changes and warps from person to person. Some people, god help them, chase only money, and when they get money, they want more money. Maybe it’s the perpetual chase that thrills them, the success of winning, the hard work itself that they derive pleasure from – who knows? But god bless them, there they are. Getting money. Are they happy? They certainly say they are, but I doubt it’s the kind of happiness Hollywood sells you. Happiness isn’t all the time. It’s a state of temporary being. Like watching Tommy Robinson getting milkshake thrown at him, the pink liquid drizzling down his miserable, English face. Or that racist American, you know, the suit and tie piece of shit getting punched hard across the mouth – One second he’s talking away like a racist lunatic, then BAM. Out of nowhere. The old KO punch sends him flying. The skin on his face flexed and gurgled, frozen in time like his picture was taken on the log flume. Things like that make me happy. I smile from ear to ear, but to smile from ear to ear constantly, all the time… forever? That’s psychotic, friend. Get that checked out.
Happiness then isn’t really happy. It’s mere contentment. It’s peace, acceptance. It’s actually pretty fucking boring, actually, but that’s what I think it is. We mythologize this epic emotion of happiness, just like love, and get upset when we aren’t beaming like lunatics all the time. It’s just impossible. Who created this myth? Was it the capitalists who know this isn’t possible? Setting an impossible standard so that, when we fail, our perpetual misery, our wallowing in failure pushes us down the road to consumption? I think so, yeah, but while we live within the myth, mired in failure, we can always achieve contentment, because contentment is a personal success story. A victory for you. And only you. That’s pretty fuckin beautiful, actually.
I wonder what makes you happy. You, reading this. I want you to have that. Maybe, ironically, it’s being in love, so you date a lot. You fuck on the first date. Cool – I hope you love it. I hope that, whatever happens, you’re happy doing the damn thing. Go forth and date. Maybe you just want to be an artist. So you buy your oil paints and you find a sunrise somewhere, and you draw a beautiful scene and send it to someone you love and they adore it. It sits on their fireplace. You smile when you walk in and see it. THAT’S contentment.
Or if you’re like me, you’ve grown accustomed to alone time. So alone, in fact, that the thought of letting someone in to your self-built paradise is terrifying. A grotesque prison sentence where they stop you from waking up late or going for lonely strolls on the common whenever you feel like it. No you can’t just do whatever you like, this other person has feelings, and you’re a selfish dickhead. Stop making yourself happy. See how dreadful that all sounds? I am not sad at all about my solitude. In fact, it seems like a liberation, not a curse. I flirt with the Starbucks barista, no intentions of taking it further, just the fleeting feeling of attraction alone is fine enough for me. I sit in front of the fountain in the rookery and sip a drink or two and the air really helps me realize that I’ve done it. I’ve reached contentment. I’m actually peaceful. This is what happiness is. I’ve unlocked a route through the bullshit that works for me. That’s happiness.
It’s not very rock and roll, is it? The thing that makes me feel alive is a chilly rock park in South London. Some people like to double dildo their partners but I just… like to sit down and listen to the birds. It ain’t much, but it works for me. And whatever works for you… well, you’ll figure it out, buddy. But it definitely isn’t that job you have or those fancy clothes you bought. It’s much more interior than that. I want you to find it. I hope you get there soon. You’re better than what you have. You’re loved very much.