Happiness and Contentment

I had this discussion with my kids the other day. We were discussing whether we are happy or content and what the difference is. A member of my “in law” family once remarked she had never had a happy day in her life. Perhaps this shocked me; but in retrospect knowing what I know about the entire clan it doesn’t surprise me. When I look at the lesser family tree members, I can see that waiting for them too. The only thing for sure in this life is that you get older or as Pink Floyd remarked regarding time,

So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older,
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

Thus it is and always shall be. But the real question is what the difference between mere contentment and happiness. An archeologist friend once remarked to me to take a look at cows in the field. That’s contentment. You don’t see them clicking their hooves, cracking jokes, running all around. But what is the sublime difference between the two things that makes us reach happiness? I’m not sure; but one thing I know is its pretty evident when we don’t have it. I have not been really happy since probably September 2009 although I have had moments where I think I got close. Leaving a work place behind that was bad for me this year had to rank high. It may have broken some things but it let me see pretty clearly that you are supposed to not just be content with work. You are supposed to enjoy it.

Relationships are another thing which interest me. Having been the product of a working slowly toward failure one and see my friend Ed travel his path to divorce; has let me see that when we really depend on another for happiness, when we believe that marriage can blend the two into one, when we believe the vows; we pretty much ignore the human element. We come with socially engaged ideas that we are supposed to find that other person, blend everything into a complete person, lives led joyfully holding the hand of the other and walking toward that sunset. Maybe a few dark clouds to stumble on your path; but in the happily idiotic method of all this; we all yield and become that true essence. I’ll just say that all that is “bullshit”. We will never be able to fit into another’s shoes much less our own. When we believe all the mumbo-jumbo we really are let down when the whole thing comes shaking down in an earthquake of accusation, infedelity, hatred, and finally separation. What happened to that great institution then? Not sure; but what I’ve learned is that its not all its cracked up to be.

We are weak clay. Made from imperfect ingredients and that’s okay. So to answer the question regarding happiness and contentment… We ain’t sure. What we do know is that we don’t know. Happiness is fleeting.

And we are one day closer to death.