Yesterday was July 4th, a time we celebrate independence and the truths that all men are created equal and “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” to quote Mr. Jefferson.
Words of the day became a topic of conversation recently, as a friend and I shared thoughts over coffee on our own experiences with life, liberty and the dogged pursuit of happiness.
My friend suggested that in order to achieve “happiness,” however you define it, one must be willing to “focus” their attention on the aspects of life that are positive, pure and beautiful — things like family, the way the moon shines, the spots on a fawn's coat — things that are happy, I gathered.
After all, the concept of determined focus made sense. It was a “pursuit” I had committed to long before our conversation. I'd make every effort to approach things from the sunny side of life, and life would reward me with an established state of happiness, I decided — whatever that would look like.
But focus can be hard, I learned, at least for me, a compulsive daydreamer. And problems cropped up as soon as my happy daydreaming was awakened by reality.
Ever met that guy? Ugh. What a buzz kill. I think of Mr. Reality as wearing a long dark cloak, with a deep voice that rumbles when he lists all the reasons why I shouldn't be happy — why my dreams regarding happiness were wasteful, as well as impractical, nonsensical, impossible.
He was quick to point out reasons why happiness doesn't always work — not in this world anyhow, not with pain and loss and boredom.
So what did I do? I ignored him. I'd find a nice big window and stare out of it. I'd brush away any ideas and aspects of life under cloak of reality that were uncomfortable to confront — aspects that would tug at my eyebrows and pervade my sacred silence.