Choosing Happiness.

Holy shit. Apparently, summer is over.

And as most of you have noticed (and some of you have nagged me about), the blog has laid rather dormant during the past few months, although I assure you it’s not for lack of trying.

In fact, I just went through and browsed the many drafts that had been started, left unfinished, trying to get an idea for what’s been going on/what my mindset’s been when I write this prodigal son blog after months of silence. And it seems all these drafts seem to center around a common theme, or at least a common emotion: melancholy.

I’m willing to accept the low swings during the winter–hell, the season practically warrants them: dead, frozen ground, constantly gray skies–the buzzing, dull electricity of snow. But the summer–well, experiencing this when the sun is shining and everyone and everything is so happy to be living, so happy to be kissed by the golden sun, well…that is something cruel.

For the past few months, nature has done its part to act accordingly–the weather has been warm, and produced lazy, balmy evenings. The grass is lush, and I can still comfortably wear skirts and dresses and feel their light material catch the air and the back of my legs when I walk. I awake to sunshine–and even better, I drive home in it. Even with the extended commute, the sunlight still lingers for at least an hour–close to two, so I don’t feel like I missed the entire day.

But sadly, although nature has been pleasantly in sync, my mind has been disconnected, and experiencing its own icy winter.

The melancholy is hard to explain–I never can quite put my finger on when it crept back in again, or what specifically caused it. Usually, it’s not just one thing–usually it’s something nagging that trickles into something sad, which rolls into another thing that’s somewhat upsetting. And suddenly I’m left with that bittersweet feeling that’s comforting and debilitating all at the same time.

There are plenty of culprits for feeling this way–losing the apartment in May and the complete spiral of control that I’ve felt over my life/freedom since; having to recognize more clearly how my mom has progressed in her illness; and watching dear friends deal with terrible sadness after terrible sadness– death, illness, financial issues, all of the above.

I have always been willing to believe and accept the mantra that “things happen for a reason”–through bad break ups, misaligned friendships/jobs, the various bad-luck situations I’ve found myself in over the years–even my mother’s illness. I have hated the lessons learned, but I have been accepting of them and have looked to find the silver lining, no matter how faint it might be…

Whenever I start feeling this way, I can understand perfectly why some people take on such an obsessive devotion to religion and God–when you feel so lost and hopeless, who better to turn to than the all-knowing, all-powerful Giver of Life/easy answer for why shit happens the way it does? That comes across as a more judgmental criticism than it is or is even attended to be, especially doing I do believe in God/a Higher power. I am a realist and a cynic–yes–but, like everyone, I’m willing to believe a little magic exists.

But that belief in God actually ends up making all this harder. Because–for me, it’s hard to believe that someone/something that has an all-encompassing love for us is willing to let us suffer in such ways, even if it’s done for the sake of “growth” and spiritual awakening. I was willing to buy that to a point, but there are some things that just can’t get written off as easily with the “all in His will” line. But then again, I don’t know if I could ever stop believing, because if this really is for nothing–if all we get is this one shot and then that’s it–we’re dust–then really, what the fuck?

I’m trying to keep pushing through, but honestly, I’m not sure what for. This has been the year of thinking, “If I can just make it through X…” …through tomorrow, through next week, through this month, through the latest stumble–If I can make it through these things, I will be OK. If I can deal with the latest frustration, or disappointment, or heartache, the clouds looming over my heavy heart and mind will finally lift. But what is the solution to this? What are the things that need to happen for me to feel like I’m moving on with my life, getting to the positive “what’s next”?

I guess that’s what I’m trying to figure out right now. I’m done with treading and need to just fucking sink or swim. I need to decide my “what’s next,” and be willing/able to be at peace with those decisions. None of these things are proving easy though–not even a little.

I have thought about medicine before, but I never thought it was necessary for me. I’ve always been able to push through it–always come out the other side of it–sometimes a little worse for wear, but always wiser, more in touch with myself. I don’t want to lose that… don’t want to become someone who always feels simpatico or at ease, or a “baseline zombie” as my one friend put it when we were out to dinner the other night, talking about our similar love/hate relationship with the blues. I’ve always surmised that that would be like living in a place that only experiences one season–how would I come to love the summer so much if I didn’t have to suffer through the winter?

Recently, a Facebook friend posted a status update that resonated with me. Generally, I don’t take away much from the inspirational quotes lifted from day planner pages or motivational posters, but for whatever reason, this one grabbed me:

Happiness is not a given. Happiness is a fight, a struggle, a choice every day.

For me, this added an interesting perspective to my ongoing internal debate. For so long, I’ve been waiting–waiting for my mindset to change, waiting to figure out what it is I need/want for this life to feel fully realized–Bottom line: I’ve been hoping for happiness to find me. Sure, I’ve worked on different things in the hopes of helping it manifest, but I always viewed happiness/contentment at this thing that would finally emerge if I waited long enough for it.

But when has that ever been the case for anything? Everything is a fight or a struggle–everything I’ve ever wanted or needed or achieved has only been delivered after some serious pulling on the boot straps and sleeve rolling, couple with sweating, and bleeding, and crying. And although we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable Rights–it’s important to note that the wording dictates that we have a right the  pursuit of that happiness, not happiness itself.

And so, I’ve decided to fight, doggedly, manically, brutally, to be happy.

To do this, I’m trying to come to terms with the things is my life that are making me realize more quickly and more profoundly that life is unexpected, and cruel, and harsh.  But while doing so, I’m working on also remembering that it is also beautiful, and magical, and that we really do only get one shot and we only have one chance to shoot it. Also, before taking said shot, we will be blindfold and tasered…

I am working more proactively on shifting my perspective and shifting the perspective of those around me to one that’s more positive, more optimistic, more readily open and available to the happiness that might be passing me and others by because we’re so set on being not happy that it gets overlooked.

So for anyone out there who might be fighting this same battle, I urge you to fight on. Keep trying, keep thrashing, keep treading those murky waters. I can’t promise that you will find the exact happiness you’re looking for, but I can guarantee that it’ll be more worthwhile than waiting for the despair to drag you down.

3 thoughts on “Choosing Happiness.

  1. I know exactly what you mean, Sara, especially about the God bits. Happiness is a battle but it is one worth fighting for, and something most people don’t fight for. Unfortunately, we have these beautiful souls that are trapped inside these human bodies living in an ever-increasing human world where we compare our happiness to the happiness of others but really, who is happy? What is happy?

    I’ve found the happiest people I know are once who are deeply faithful. They just radiate an awesome light and THAT is something worth striving toward. For me, happiness is letting go and letting God. Granted I am still responsible for my own actions but just giving all my worry to him and letting my heart guide me has been the greatest, most challenging, most difficult, most rewarding thing I have ever done.

    Granted, I’m not 100% happy 100% of the time but that’s just me being human. Shit happens, you know?

    I recommend reading 1 Peter – the entire book, in the NIV version. It’s short and relevant to what you are going through. Read it once to familiarize, twice to absorb it, three times to know it, and then keep on reading. Even if you aren’t a Christian, Peter speaks amazingly well to human suffering and the necessity/reason for belief in God and love.

    1 Peter 5: 6-10 and 1 Peter 3:15 are personal favorites. I think the more time we take to get to know God, the easier it is to determine when he is whispering to us versus everything that shouts at us all day and night long.

    Everyone suffers, and everyone is coming from somewhere. It’s what we do with that suffering that sets us apart. On my website, I am going to post a talk that I gave to my church. Feel free to read it, and be well!

  2. Man, I know how you feel. I won’t even go into detail here, but I know how hard it is to keep trying. This year has been hell. But even when I’m feeling the worst, I always have this inkling that things will get better. I’m not always convinced I know how that will look when it happens, but I belive it will even if it doesn’t look like what I want it to right now. And in the meantime, I just try to remember Finding Nemo, and just keep swimming. It sounds silly sometimes, but it helps.

    Anyway, I also feel bad about not doing better at staying in touch with everyone stateside, particularly you because we had such a great time on our Eurotrip and then shit hit the fan before I ever had time to process that. Then I kind of retreated into a hole. So I’m always resolving to do better at keeping in touch, being there for people as much as they’ve been there for me, and remembering how amazingly lucky I am to have the friends I do, even if they’re far away.

    I know both of us are strong enough and awesome enough to pull through the hard stuff life throws at us. I just wish we were a little geographically closer so we could go to the bar, have a pint (or a hookah), and bitch about it every now and then. You know?

  3. You’re right. Happiness is a choice, an attitude that we adopt. It’s not something that happens to us. It’s something we make happen. Not easy, but the good things never are! I love you!

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