Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Meaning of Life


Lately, I have been spending a lot of time just trying to figure out what I truly want from life. And more often than not, the concept of happiness comes to the forefront of my mind. How can I achieve it? What are the elements that comprise it? Is it attainable? Does it even exist? Basically, what is it going to take for me to find happiness at some point in my lifetime, to be able to wake up each and every day happy? So my goal is to develop some sort of mathematical/scientific formula to define the concept of happiness despite my ineptitude with math and science.

For me, one of the biggest areas of the happiness equation is going to involve the delicate balance between solitude and companionship. I need my alone time. I need time to walk in the woods, to drive through the country, to sit at the end of the bar, to read, to listen, to watch. But I also need someone to share my life with, someone to laugh and cry with, to bitch with, to age with, to love with, to live life with. I used to think I didn’t need anyone else. I was wrong, dreadfully wrong. Unfortunately, the search for that person is the greatest cause of happiness’ polar opposite, despair.

Another part of finding happiness for me is an occupation that I can be passionate about or at the very least have more than a passing interest as to whether I succeed or fail. Money has never been a great motivator for me and maybe that is part of my problem, but I need more out of a job than a paycheck. I used to trade occupational satisfaction for quality of life. That works when you are younger, but now that formula is completely ineffectual.

Nature plays an important role in my definition of happiness. I need access to beautiful places. That place does not have to be the mountains or the beach, but something as simple as a couple of acres of woods, undeveloped prairie, or a glass smooth lake in the early morning. Nature provides the spiritual aspect of my existence, and without it, I tend to become more directionless than usual. There is just something incredibly soothing and reassuring about nature.

Family tends to be one of the more difficult elements of the happiness equation for me. The loss of my own family will stand as the single most devastating event of my life. I miss them dearly while at the same time; seem to understand that maybe the situation was irresolvable and that they are better off without me. On the surface that seems like a very selfish statement as it is irresponsible to bring three human beings into existence and then abandon them, but that surface view does not reflect the reality of the situation which is the simple fact that I was not a good human being around them at that time. It is clich├ęd to state that your family is the only group of people that will stand by you when times are difficult, but I have found that to be true. My parents and extended family have always been there for me to provide support, shelter, advice, etc. Without them, I am not sure I would have made it through some of the darker periods of my life like the drugs, divorce, and depression.

Probably the last major aspect of my personal search for happiness is art. I need music, books, films, paintings, and sculpture; basically anything aesthetically pleasing to my mind or ears or eyes. This is actually the only area of my personal search for happiness that I seem to have under control or at least a good grasp of achieving. Because of my family situation, I have a lot of free time to explore various art forms and do find inspiration from them.

So where does this leave me? As I mentioned earlier, everyone’s happiness equation is going to be different, but I think I have figured out mine. If:
A=art
J=job
C=companionship
N=nature
And
F=family
Then:
(A+J)/(F-N)*C=Life Sucks

No comments: