The myth of solid ground

I guess on Sunday I’ll be participating in a “Pride” celebration for the first time ever when I march with Pacific University in their annual representation in Portland’s Pride parade. I was pretty indifferent about it, but my friend Caryn, who doesn’t even go to school with me, wanted to volunteer at the festival anyway, so I suggested she march with us and she was all about it. Several of my classmates and professors are also attending to represent, so it should be fun. My classmate Carrie asked her 7-year-old son if he wanted to march in the parade and he got real excited, then the next morning at breakfast he was more ambivalent about it, and asked her, “What does gay mean?” So she told him in terms he could understand, he pondered it for a moment, then replied, “That makes sense.” And then got excited about being in the parade again. She’s raising a great boy.

It’s funny how all of the existential philosophers I’ve read any of over the past few months (Nietzsche, Sartre, and Ernest Becker) never talk about how to achieve happiness, but they do seem to talk a great deal about unhappiness, which seems to stem largely from a lack of meaning in one’s life. And of course unhappiness leads to all kinds of undesirable outcomes, especially when it’s wrapped up in an effort to deny one’s mortality in order to become infinite. From henceforth all the world’s evil and injustice flows, according to Becker.

It’s hard to be unhappy in a neighborhood as lovely as mine. Or maybe I’ve just finally achieved the meaning I’ve sought. People who go around harping about how happy they are all the time are some of the most insufferable people that exist, mostly because I don’t believe them. Or maybe it’s because I do believe them. Or maybe it’s just because they’re annoying. I don’t think “being happy” (an idea I actually find very distasteful) implies a lack of unhappiness in one’s life, it just implies balance, a dedication to reality, the maintaining of perspective, and the feeling of being useful.

I don’t think that’s so unreasonable. But damn, it sure is difficult most of the time. And naturally, as soon as one declares oneself “happy,” something hideous will happen to them. Life is nothing if not humbling.

But today I am happy, and I am fulfilled, and I have wine and ice cream in my belly, even if my shoulder has been aching all day from doing restraints on children at work yesterday. Back to work at 7am tomorrow. I can’t wait.

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One response to “The myth of solid ground

  1. I’m happy, too and it seems so clear to me that happiness is a choice above anything else. Sadness is always going to be waiting for us, knowing that, appreciating the day, the moment, the human in front of us, or in the mirror, seems so much easier.

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