Happily Ever After

Happily ever after doesn’t exist to me.  Not that happiness doesn’t exist, but the conception of happily ever after doesn’t exist.  Happiness is a fleeting emotional spike.  It is like a drug high that you must continue to chase until it eventually kills you.  It is impossible to stay in a constant state of happy without using lots of substances or perpetually fooling yourself or both.

Happiness is not something I consistently strive to achieve.  Again, it isn’t that I don’t think happiness exists.  It does exist.  I prefer contentment.  That is the idea that you are in the place, emotionally, psychologically, and physically you should be.  Your life is what you want it to be.  You will have moments of happiness, but you will also have moments of trial and pain.  However, you know that you will make it to the other side because you are where you are supposed to be.

My favorite movies and literature almost never end with happily ever after.  The characters always end up in a different, sometimes better place than where they started, but rarely do they end up happy.  The lucky ones end up content that they have done right and comfortable with where they have landed.  These characters either already know or spend the bulk of the movie, book, or short story learning who they are.  Once that is achieved whatever happens helps them turn out all right.

I love romantic comedies and my favorite is Roman Holiday.  My second favorite is probably When Harry Met Sally.  We all want the When Harry Met Sally ending, but most of the time we get the Roman Holiday ending.  Harry and Sally are soulmates destined to be together.  Everything that happens points to the inevitable end.  Joe and Ann are also soulmates and have a wonderful time and a wonderful moment of happiness together as Joe teaches her how to be a human and not just a princess, but it has to end and they both know it and they both accept it.  It isn’t without pain, but it is necessary for their lives to continue and they will both look back at it with fondness.  (The best time of the year for these movies is Christmas.  The Hallmark Channel and Lifetime run them constantly starting Thanksgiving week.)

Whenever someone asks me if I’m happy, I usually lie so as not to have the debate.  I won’t here.  Am I happy?  No, but I’m not trying to be.  I’m just trying to find my place in the world and be content with who I am.  Don’t get me wrong, I know myself and I like myself.  I just don’t constantly strive for momentary emotional satisfaction because there is so much more.

That sounds bad.  I’m not Eeyore.  If you want to see me happy, talk to me after a big Tar Heel basketball win or the moments after the USA/Algeria World Cup match in 2010 or find me when I’m two hours into listening to my favorite albums.  Those are just moments in a much longer life.  The emotion I think of when hear happiness is fleeting, and while it is worth finding it is not something I chase or hope for constantly.

So, no, I don’t believe in happily ever after.  I believe in finding your place and finding your contentment and letting the moments of happy find you.

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