Nine months ago I started this topic with just the headline and nothing else. I've left this as a draft and forgot about it entirely. Until today…
Some many stories I’ve lived since, and recently (yesterday) I understood something important, something that I always knew somehow...
You know the feeling when you know that you know, but you’re not able to quite grab the subject? It’s tiring and frustrating to know something, to try to wrap your head around it, still there is not outcome and no benefit. The crappy part is that because you cannot fully comprehend, it may be even better to not know it at all, because it takes a part of you brain power, it takes energy, energy that you could potentially use for something else and as a result feel better and accomplish more.
The only way of freeing yourself is by embracing your experience even if it’s a shadow you are seeing, not being afraid of it, having fun with it and going through all of the experience until an “aha moment” arrives.
How and when this moment occurs, is a topic for another time.
It so happens that I was doing a hike in the gorgeous Retezat Mountains, a place so beautiful and fairytale like. I was with two friends (Bo and Re) and we were debating on what happiness really is. I know… boring topic. Name one person that doesn’t think about this at least once in his lifetime. You cannot.
Well, doesn’t matter since happiness is such a personal thing and everyone pursuits it in his very own special way.
While we were heading back to civilization, there was a section, a very long and boring road that we needed to take, the same as when we arrived, about nineteen kilometers in length, so you can imagine we had enough time to explore the topic.
Re said that happiness is choosing to be happy, making yourself happy by looking at events and people in your life in a proper way. Happiness is a choice, and I concur. However it feels to me that looking at events and people by themselves, separately is so unscalable and happiness shouldn’t be like that. Happiness must be scalable, not by intensity, but by length, by how much it lasts. Also happiness is something that you can consume, with negative emotions par exemple, so it should also be replenishable. Happiness can be forgotten, like eating your favorite food all day long for a full year, so it should be rememberable, etc…
I came to realize that happiness could very well be the journey towards happiness, without really reaching it.
Now, why not reaching it? It sounds so miserable right? Well, not quite…
Imagine that you condition your happiness. What would you say? You’ll say that I will be happy once I have that car, that house, if I am together with that person, if I see the falling stars on the top of the mountain (once per year event, and you have to have clear sky at night).
When you conceive happiness like that, you surely make a plan and you begin following it. This is what normal people do, and what you should do too.
But once you start implementing your plan and follow your thoughts, you begin to deviate from the plan due to unexpected roadblocks. The road is closed and you have to walk an additional 19 kilometers. Because of that you arrive late and you cannot reach a mountain top that you dreamt of climbing on for more than 10 years but hadn’t had the chance. Frustration builds up and you begin to feel uncomfortable. You lose sight of why you came here, happiness that is. You may start rushing things so that you get there faster and be able to complete everything that you had in mind, etc…
When you arrive, you are already tired and exhausted, you have drained all of your energy, you wait for the night to arrive and then the sky is cloudy. It will seem like it’s the end of the road for you. You’ll start saying things like: “Why did I come here? Wishing I sat at home, resting. I knew I wasn’t a good idea! I knew I shouldn’t visited my friend one night earlier! My friends are at fault that they moved slower than expected! Why is the world against me!? Blah blah blah...“
But what would have happened if the sky was clear and you could marvel at the Milky Way and see all the falling stars that you waited so long to see?
You would be happy, you would ignore all that was behind you, all the misery and swearing that you went through to get there. You’ll most certainly feel entitled to the achievement for having gone so much from your way to get there.
Is that happiness? It could be for some! Some can think and even believe that this is happiness. You could say that having your objectives reached you are king, and you may feel like one.
But at what cost? What was the price for getting there? Trivial… important...? Will you be doing it again? What if next time it will be cloudy? How would you react then? Going through misery and discomfort to reach disappointment!? Will you be happy then?
Let’s say that you love small frogs that are all over the road, and staring at water, and looking at butterflies, and enjoying the tree shade on a hot summer day, and just walking alone with your thoughts or even better having no thoughts whatsoever, and drinking cold fresh water from so many streams, washing your feet in the ice cold river, being caught by a quick shower, observing waterfalls, the way the clouds form and dissipate, losing your sight in a dense old forest when in the middle of the day everything looks as if it’s twilight, the way the sun rays penetrate the clouds or the tree crown.
Maybe you like open spaces that feel infinite, landscapes that look like being there from another era, falling asleep out in the open in your cosy sleeping bag, letting yourself surrounded by the silence and feeling the enormity of things where you as a person don’t count.
What if being there stirs up memories about people you loved and you hold dear in your heart, what if you pay your respects and feel gratitude for having so many good things in your life?
Even better, bonding with your friends on a deeper level by exploring ideas together, making new acquaintances, being curious on how people live there and their habits and way of life, discovering specific medicinal plants from them, that grow there (e.g. Gentiana roots which is the bitterest thing you’ve tasted).
Can this be happiness? Would it matter if and whether you saw your falling stars? Would it matter if it was cloudy? Would it matter that the road was long or short? Would it matter that you are tired or not? I guess it wouldn’t.
You would’ve accomplished so many things, but would you look at them as accomplishments?
Well, I will share and leave you to enjoy some of the things I loved in this hiking trip with my friends. You decide if it was worth it :D
P.S. I didn’t tell you the "why until today". Let’s say that we, sometime, from time to time, need emotional shock to really understand the world and clarify how and why we are doing things. Also a topic for another time...