Monday, October 22, 2007

Blue Skies and Brittle Smiles

So here we are, in the throes of Indian Native-American Summer. Neither lazy autumn, nor fully a return to the halcyon summer, and about as far from the bitter, frozen, whistling wasteland of a Montreal winter as it's possible to get. It's warm enough for shorts and sandals, but I've decided to spare you the sight of my winter-pallid legs, and hobbit-hairy toes. You can thank me later.

Much discussion of late, with IronMan (among others) on the art of small-h-happiness, the merits of trees over forests, and What, O What, Does It All Mean, Really? Heady stuff indeed, but the final syrupy essence is that: a) you can't just wait for happiness to happen. b) Big-H-Happiness, the meaning of life, the one thing that will just complete your existence here on Earth? That doesn't exist. So c) You have to cobble it together out of smaller pieces.

Big-H-Happiness is Enlightenment is Nirvana is Truth is Beauty is Meaning is God is The Soul. This is the thing those little monks in the orange robes spend their not-inconsiderable lifespans pondering. Once in a thousand years, a "living Buddha" achieves perfect enlightenment, and let's face it, you're not him.

Small-h-happiness is Autumn colors (or in Boxer's case, shoveling your sidewalk. Freak), is hugging your child, is finishing a Sudoku, is watching cartoons, is riding bikes, is dinner with friends, is making love. These small joys are pretty much within reach for all of us, and they add up to... Something. Probably something pretty good.

Our consumerist society teaches us from a young age that rarity equals value. Gold is worth much more than salt, by reason of its rarity. We are taught that "common" things, commodities, have little or no unit value. And so it's perhaps made a little easier to commoditize the small-h, and to always be looking for the magic bullet of enlightenment. And of course I, prey to all the foibles of the human condition, fall for this trap every time.

We are so busy looking for the forest, that we fail to see the trees. So obsessed with the Big Picture, that we ignore the magic of those tiny pixels of which it is composed. Eyes always on the horizon, we trip on the the artifacts of our missed opportunities. Searching for le mot juste, we write a bunch of crap and overstate our case.

Any conversation on this topic with IronMan usually ends with a half-joking resolution to Lower Expectations. "If you're not satisfied, lower your expectations until you are". Then we laugh. But there's many a true word spoken in jest. Narrow the scope. Lower Expectations. Don't look over there, look right here. Stop waiting.

Today we talked a bit about Boxer (yes, Leila, we talk about you when you're not around. Aren't you appalled?). How the hell does she do it? She's always so damn happy (or at least she fakes it convincingly). Boxer smiles, even when she's crying, which is tough to pull off.

Not that I cry.

You know, being a guy and all.

1 uninformed opinions:

Leila said...

i'm happy cause you're my friend.