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My exhausting relationship with happiness

Updated: Nov 6, 2019

Happiness is elusive, as human beings and once instinctive hunters it can seem natural to transfix on it, to try and entrap it. But, we’re poor hunters now, our blundering forms are more likely to be found exhausted in the manic pursuit of this skittish beast, than successful. My philosophy on life relies on framing happiness as this nimble creature, because if our state of happiness is fleeting, then so too must be the moments of utter despair.

Education is a taste. Behind the doors of this structure we play games that mimic the hunt, but do not recreate its brutality. For a moment it all makes sense. You catch the paper beast, pass, you miss it, fail. We become obedient to the learned hunters of our society, those who teach us, in their numbers and ink, how to fare in life’s greatest game. But what happens when we are deemed ready? And we graduate, stumbling into the woods, cocking rifles and tying boots, looking frantically for the real thing? Well some disappear, seeming to locate it out of sight with uproarious glee. Many give up after watching it slip away, sulkily looking down, kicking the grass and cursing. Some truly didn’t have a chance, their instincts weren’t there, and they are tragically left behind on the hunt, trampled in the eagerness of others.

Hunters do of course catch and successfully ensnare the beast, but one day they will always watch their weakened prey flee, or die, their grips always too suffocating, or too slack. The beast is mortal and momentary, perhaps why the Greeks had two words for utopia, eu-topos, a perfect place, and ou-topos, a place that doesn’t exist. We can lay down our weapons, but you must know it carries no more consistency. If you choose to refute the hunt, you bind yourself to the chaos that is life, learning that though the Beast’s presence is never guaranteed, there is always the promise of its possible return. I do not hunt; I treat the beast as I would any wild creature. In moments of encounter, I stop in my tracks, I do not attempt to chase nor tackle, I breathe and stare, letting it stare back. Because the less I attempt at controlling it, the longer it remains with me.

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