Do you remember the date? I do. It was a dark day (or not) for me and a patient one for you. I was unhappy and masking my pain – like I always do. You were unhappy and forthcoming about it. I stayed up all night to fix the mess that I was in. You stayed up with me.
Grumbling. Teasing. Smiling. Laughing. Nudging. A rainbow of emotions.
I remember the links you sent; so typical of you. Videos, funny ones, were your famous escape route. We fought like we usually did, despite the videos. I don’t think I told you then that I had fallen for you.
But you knew. You mocked my resistance, laughed away my timidity and silently smiled in the cocky knowledge of it all. I sensed your impatience, waiting for me to come to terms with it. It would be long before I strung any words together affirming your assumptions. You threw a metaphorical party. It was more than wonderful.
I never told you this but the date stayed with me; long after you did. After all, it was the first time I acknowledged it. Even to myself.
I struggle now to reconcile the deep, love-filled memories (because they are worth remembering) with the emptiness of the current overwhelming feeling of loss. I know better than to dismiss it all. I know that hate or anger won’t help me right now. I impatiently wait to wrap my brain around the chaos. But this is all a lesson for me in patience, isn’t it? I don’t want to say it is a cruel one. I am tempted to rush into that narrative of pity and ‘oh look how bad things happen’. Not this time. It is just one that I needed to learn.
Chaos and loss take time to heal and settle. I need to take on this world one day at a time. With my best tough, brave face on.
It gets better.
Watching the sun rise or set in the water. Finding a really old version of a book I was looking for. Reaching the bus stop and getting an empty bus immediately. Travelling alone to enjoy the voices in my head. Writing. Baking a cake for someone I love. Reading a book and forgetting the bad day I was having. Finding a song that says everything on my mind. Sitting with someone and reading in silence. Going for a swim. Drinking endless cups of coffee. Talking about negotiating and challenging my comfort zones with select few. Waking up with the gentle licks of the dog. Cooking myself a delicious meal. Sitting on the terrace and watching the planes fly by. Magically meeting every deadline at work. Getting published. Being followed by a random dog on the street that stops after being petted. Finding an old letter that is filled with love. Sharing a private moment in a public place. The thrill of watching my favourite episode of my favourite television serial with my favourite person. Getting books as a default present from anyone who knows me even a little. Boisterously laughing without a care in the world. Drinking for the joy of drinking.
These are a few of my favourite things.
I enjoy happiness so rarely in retrospect. I remember the physical and emotional scars well enough, with details, for long periods of time. But happiness feels like a fleeting moment in my short life. And how untrue that is!
Today, I revisited my wonderful trip to France triggered by a memory of a random walk in a park where we saw a Gandhi statue. Then I went back to my post about Paris and I realised I had missed this and many other high moments of that trip. Including describing the sheer joy of visiting Shakespeare and Co. How does one ensure that these memories or moments help define us? The happy, elated, ecstatic ones? Not merely the bitter, angry and sullen ones. Pain and loss have a remarkable way of shaping us. I know this well and I wouldn’t change how those moments have changed me. But happiness or even not-sad moments have much to teach; I have much to learn from them. For instance, to hold onto these moments. To remember that it defines me as much as the low points. To realise that these highs bring meaning to my life.
I am told the most important questions in life have the most difficult answers. The one question that irks me has a complicated answer I think. What is happiness? Specifically, why is there such a craze to find it? I have personally not been able to answer this question. Yet I take part in the charade to seek it, find it and bask in it. I can pretty easily answer what makes me happy. I also spend many hours doing the things that I enjoy. Then what does being happy mean? Does it mean never shedding a tear? Never hurting about losing a friend? Never regretting your horrible choices? I assume not. Then when someone asks, “Are you happy?” My answer should have a yes somewhere in it. But I find myself refraining. I have built up this emotion inside my head and I find nothing seems to match it. It is supposed to be warming, earth shattering and mind numbing. Right? Maybe. It probably also doesn’t require me to be happy all the time. Mostly.
Yet, I find myself constantly standing on a cliff and stretching out my arms, hoping to grasp happiness at least for a few fleeting seconds. I am yet to find it or I might have found it and I just didn’t realise it. Or worse, the pursuit for happiness might actually be pointless. And in fact enjoying life in erratic spurts is actually enough.