Thursday, March 11, 2004

Happily Earnest; Earnestly Happy

So much is happening in me and around me. I pause to take a breath and I feel that I might miss something. At times I deliberately attempt to waste and while away time for fear that I might get too caught up in this euphoric ‘rush’ on life simply because the rush of life seems euphorically overwhelming. This when there is nothing that is truly significant or unique in my life – it is just another life. What seems to have changed is a realization that there is so much out there to experience and an anxiety that I may never ever be able to experience it all.

It’s a good kind of anxiety; to have more possibilities that might go unfulfilled than to have few that one couldn’t care less about. I suppose what this means is that I’m reaching the stage where I am getting increasingly aware of my own mortality. The freedom to succumb to the slavery of the social and peer driven disdain for life of the early twenties no longer holds any appeal. Sooner, rather than later, hopefully, one realizes that the angst ridden the-world-owes-me-a-life attitude is getting pretty time and energy consuming. Moving along into the late twenties and early thirties there is an attitude shift when one starts coming to grips with the possibility that one may actually be able to achieve the socially driven and materially defined goals that one had set for oneself both professionally and personally. The striving then is focused on the girl and the house and the job, and the wife and home and career that they will eventually evolve into, validating ones very identity. The anxiety here is of nervous excitement since all this is so relevant and current and impactful and quantifiable. Once I have achieved x, y, and z and maybe even p, then I’ll have achieved 90 percent of my dreams. So, yes, this is the period of growth and performance monitoring and goal achieving.

Often this phase can last the lifetime. One can keep on creating new responsibilities and pressures until the day one dies. There will always be the wayward child who returned home, the social cause that just cannot be effected without my participation, the grandchildren that need to be indulged and mentored and the ailing parent who needs be cared for. And of course these responsibilities must be addressed and resolved – one still is in the process of living life.

But what more then am I looking for? This anxiety that seems to have generated in the last few months, that I feel is a ‘good’ anxiety, perhaps covers all of these aspects and more. What is this ‘more’ then that I am recently feeling I need to address? That if I don’t now then I will have kicked in the stomach the divine opportunity offered to me as a human being – an instantiation of some kind of energy that was manifested to realize a certain something? But only if I became, at some point, anxious enough to recognize that yes, there is something ‘more’ that needs to be acknowledged and realized for the sake of true happiness.

True happiness. Is that what I am finally striving for? So, I sat at my café the other day and started writing just as I sit in my café today and write this. This was not too long ago after an especially frustrating day at work or a boring workout or a disappointing date – who can remember – the triggers that highlight this lack get more and more frequent but less and less trackable. (And this for someone who specializes in building analytical systems). So, anyway, there I was trying to put on paper exactly what it was that was the problem and what came out was a semi-essay of what it would mean to be happy in this life. Of course it was fairly factual but was also, interestingly enough, slightly mystical and even mythical. It was, also, intensely personal so of course all that goes to the ‘Other’ Blog… But suffice it to say that it covered the entire gamut of my life from love and family and friends and dating and relationship to technical and professional achievements to financial stability and creative fulfillment and cultural experiences to literary and athletic pursuits to entertainment and culinary talents to superbly blissful downtime and of course the realization of a truly practical spiritual expression of the self.

The funny thing was that I knew I have made these kinds of lists before – actually many many times in the past few years – and of course all of them were skill and achievement and success oriented. This one came with the difference – it was happiness focused. It had a simplicity in its intention…. I just want to feel happiness and I want to identify what are the factors and emotions and people and places and experiences that allow me to feel just that. Allow me the freedom to lose myself in just that experience.

So, now here I am, on a strikingly beautiful, treat of a suddenly spring day in San Francisco and
“I see friends shaking hands, sayin' "how do you do?"
They're really sayin' "I love you"
I hear babies cryin', I watch them grow
They'll learn much more, than I'll never know
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.”