Marvin Gaye had one instruction for humanity: don’t worry, be happy.
Now, because I can be a little reflective at times, I have decided to have a talk with you about that.
What I wonder friends, is this. I wonder if we as a society have become so obsessed with finding happiness that unless we are experiencing joy, contentment and peace in every moment, we are somehow failing? Is it really possible for us to sustain happiness forever? Are we less evolved if sometimes we’re just downright bored, ungrateful or annoyed?
Because, I’ll tell you what. When I’m not feeling happy, I’m feeling guilty that I’m not feeling happy. And then I feel anxious that I’m feeling guilty that I’m not feeling happy. And then I feel angry that I’m anxious because I can’t take the guilt of not feeling happy. So then I have to head over to my medicine cabinet and take some rescue remedy just to calm down. And then I think about the children in Africa who would give anything to live the privileged life I live, and then I feel guilty again about not feeling happy.
I tell you, it is a nightmare inside my head.
On another note, I read recently that there was once a famous writer who, when asked if he loved writing, replied, “No, but I love having written.”
And, just between you and me, this is possibly one of the greatest sentences I have ever read.
Because maybe, the answer to “Do you love life?”, is “No not right at the minute I’m sorry, but I love having lived“.
“Do you love being a parent?” “Again, not quite actually loving it today, but I love having parented.”
Because when I read that sentence, it hit me. The Secret. The Relief. I don’t have to enjoy every single moment of my life. They are just moments. The good ones come and go, the bad ones come and go, and that’s just that. The process of living and the outcome of living are two very different things, and it’s very common for us all to get swept away in our a-lot-of-the-time-average-lives but look back with regret as not having treasured those moments enough. Yes, we should treasure them when we can, but this is life, folks, and it’s very human of us not to relish every single moment because, quite frankly, who can? And are we even supposed to?
I’m down with the Dalai Lama and all that enlightenment and finding true happiness and living in the moment stuff but gol-ly my life is DEFINITELY not don’t worry be happy all the time.
This is what I’m dealing with friends.
3 days ago a man who I will refrain from naming for the purpose of privacy protection has somehow Caused This Scene and has somehow forgotten to clean it up. And then he walks around the rest of our beautifully clean, cosily decorated home with his eyebrows raised AS IF HE’S UNABLE TO DECIPHER WHAT THE PROBLEM IS HERE.
However, that’s another story and the baby hasn’t even arrived yet and I don’t want to start feeling anxious and I am quite clearly getting side-tracked so I just wanted to say that maybe, the minute we dropped our self-inflicted pressure to be happy all the time, we might just start being happy. Gosh, how wise of me.
So as of now, I’m learning how to be comfortable in moments that are less than exceptional. The moments that are boring. The moments that have no makeup, so shiny lights, no red carpet. I’m learning how to be comfortable being uncomfortable, dissatisfied, mundane, unsure. I’m allowing myself to be normal and plain and simple without wanting to curl up in fetal position and grieve a life that, frankly, only really happens in movies.
Because in the end, life is everything. Life is the baby vomit on your shirt. It’s the repetition of the chores. It’s the smile your partner gives you as he wakes up in the morning and you can tell he loves you more than you probably register. It’s the dreams and challenges and disappointments and great loves. And it’s all there, the full catastrophe of it, all the time, hitting us constantly in its desire for us just to experience it.
As Florence Welch sings, “I’m not giving up, I’m just giving in.”
And I finally realize that there is, in fact, a difference.