Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happiness is a Smoking Gun

As I said in my Facebook status update, Todd and I are anxiously awaiting the birth of our stone. It doesn't bode well to spend the first day of the new year in the emergency room and NOT be the person who is doped up. It's like if I am going to spend 6 hours in the ER, I'd better be fucked up. In a good way. I'm starting to think that Todd just got this stone to compete with me. We're both trying to "out-stone" the other...Well, now I've had two and he's had two. It's a draw. But don't discount me yet. The year is still young and if I start loading up on the oxalates now, I could develop a decent size renal calculi in a few months. Believe me, it takes a lot of dedication and hard work to be a stone maker. You have no idea.

Honestly, if you want to really examine the situation, I'd say I'm the clear winner. My stones have been exponentially bigger; They've been so big, in fact, that I've had to have major surgery twice to remove them, and minor surgery once to remove fragments. Suck on that, Todd.

What I really want to vent about right now is that "ever transparent dangling carrot (TM Alanis) we like to refer to as "happiness". What's bothering me about the concept at the moment, in this period where everybody is doling out wishes of a "Happy New Year" to friends and strangers alike, is that I really have no clue what it actually means. Do you? Does anybody? Maybe I'm an idiot, and anyone reading this is like "Duh! How could you NOT know what it means to be happy?"

Of course, I know how it FEELS when I'm happy. Like, I completely recognize the emotion in those rare and fleeting moments when I actually experience it. Every month when I pick up my percocet prescription, I feel happy. Every time my daughter shakes her tiny ass and says "Baby got back", I feel happy. When I have an orgasm, I feel happy. When I see a van burning like a supernova on the side of the road, I feel happy. When I think about punching people right in the face and breaking their horrible jaws so that they lose the ability to speak ever again after they say "What can I do you for?", I feel happy.

But are feeling happy in the moment and actually finding happiness in your life the same things? I assume that they are not. Afterall, I find it hard to believe that Thomas Jefferson and the other writers of our country's Constitution thought it possible to achieve a perpetual state of enjoyment or bliss when they delineated "the pursuit of happiness" as a basic right of all human beings. In other words, I can't accept that their definition of happiness included the absence of sadness, anger, or any other negative emotion. Even they had to know that this is a horrible world full of horrible possibilities, which is why I think they used the phrase "pursuit of happiness" rather than the word "happiness". It's like Jefferson was saying, "Well, you can TRY..." This tickles me. I mean, this was written in a time when people had wooden teeth in their mouths and no deodorant or indoor plumbing and British people walking around doing pretty much whatever they wanted. It's a wonder they could muster a smile. Maybe they never did. Look at George Washington's picture on the dollar bill. He looks as though he has the smell of something rotten wafting into his nostrils. That's because he did.

We have better circumstances in our modern age, comparatively. But we really just have a whole new set of problems to contend with, to make us miserable, to make us rue the day we came out of our mothers screaming indignantly about having been born. Or maybe that's just me and my ilk: Bitter and not depressed enough for medication to help at all. I can't even watch the news anymore. I just lose my mind. Every happy moment is transitory, replaced with a looming dread about the future. For me, the loss of joy is worse than the absence of joy. And it's truly a wonder to me that anyone could feel differently, that anyone could escape the constant onslaught of anxiety in a culture that practically celebrates disaster. Serial killers are basically superstars. We watch and we watch and we listen and we learn every single day that things which appear innocent are actually trying to murder us. Lead in a baby toy. Saturated fat in a tasty french fry. Newscasters spouting doom nightly while we eat it up like it's the only supper that could ever satisfy our bottomless appetite for despair.

But I realized from an early age that we are all islands unto ourselves. How could I ever know that your experience of a certain emotion is the same as mine? Fear, rage, love...who knows? Maybe even joy can be terrible.

Ashley gave me this book called "Stumbling Towards Happiness" last year and it really expressed so much more eloquently some of the thoughts that had been brewing in my brain for so many years, and also enlightened me on the issue of relativity. How we define and measure happiness changes depending on the person you ask. Maybe eating cheesecake is the best I think I could ever feel...if I've never had an orgasm. Maybe an orgasm is the most pleasure I could ever feel... until I get a shot of Demerol in my ass. Maybe if you find and experience the absolute apex of pleasure, you just screw yourself for the rest of your life. Because then nothing will ever feel as good, as beautiful, as pleasurable as that singular moment you knew in that moment of time. Maybe you will spend all of your remaining time here in search of that pleasure, to feel it again just one more time. I don't know about you but sometimes I think I'm so consumed with the pursuit of happiness, that I forget about just feeling happy, or content with the particular beauties and gifts the present is offering to me.

This might sound strange for me to say after all that has preceded it, but I sincerely wish you all a happy new year. Whatever that might mean to you.

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