Dying to be Happy
The fragility of one’s life is always unknown to the dying. How I wish that were me, accepting my fate, holding on to all the moments that made me strong, and letting go of the ones that haunted my youth. Every morning I check my pulse. It’s beating regularly. Shit. I hear my stomach rumbling for food. My appetite is just fine. Eye roll. I look in the mirror: my hair is full, my eyes are bright, my lips are a pinkish red. No signs of illness. Not even close. Why is this my life?
Everyday I find myself in the same place, healthy yet destructively content. It’s sickening how unfulfilling happiness is. I sit constantly waiting for the lapse in judgment, the awaited life-changing accident, the tragic death of a loved one. Where is the drama? The awe-inspiring emotion that pulls me out of this funk called sitting-on-the-couch-comfortable? I don’t want to be comfortable! I want to be moving, adrenaline rushing through my veins, electrocuting my hair. Happiness is the death of adventure, the end of passion, the goodbye of a life not lived. The moment you can sit back with your feet up, sipping an ice cold lemonade, is the moment you have truly died. Happiness is the end, and I am not even close to being finished.
But, what disgusts me most is not the time that this feeling has shown itself, it’s the fact that I have nothing to show for it. What have I done to deserve to be this satisfied? I have not hiked along the Appalachian trail, or travelled to the farthest end of the world. I have not written the next Great American Novel, or graduated college. I have not married, or raised a child, or a cat, or a fish for that matter. I have not read every great book, watched every classic film, or ran through the streets of Amsterdam naked. I have accomplished nothing, but mastering the art of a good ham sandwich. It is this guilt that eats at me late into the hours when my dreams have taken over my reality, when the unconscious meets conscious, that I am given reason for this lack of melancholy.
I am often faced with a recurring dream where I am trapped out at sea on a boat with no one else around to hear me. I scream at every corner. I search for land or a nearby boat. Nothing could be seen, or heard, or felt, but the stillness of the ocean below, the slight breeze brushing over my face, and the faint scent of sea salt. Then, my dream fades into my 5th grade classroom filled with girls in matching uniforms; everyone is chatting around me, braiding hair, whispering into each other’s ears, but no one is talking to me. No one is even noticing me. I keep trying to make eye contact with someone, but it’s as if I’m not even there, and that’s when I look down at myself and see blackness. I feel myself falling. I don’t know where or how, but my body is free falling into a dark pit. My eyes are closed and my heart is racing waiting for the impact to take over and tear me into a million pieces, but then the darkness turns into a type of memory vault where every part of my life is shown in short glimpses like a home movie on high speed. I watch my life flash around me from my first memory to my most recent and for a moment I forget that I am falling, I forget that I am dreaming, and I remember my life as it was.
I remember the pain of every rejection, every mean word shouted at me, every dirty look coming straight from the eyes of a girl in a blue plaid skirt. I remember the feeling of watching my ideas being overtaken by a girl whose mother was always seen having pleasant conversations with the head of school. I remember sulking over losing another friend for reasons I will never understand, for crying in the bathroom stall because sitting alone at lunch was just too hard, for being picked last every time in gym class. Mostly, I remember the pain of going through it alone.
How fragile I was and how foreign it all seems now. I cannot recall a pivotal moment of release from it, except that with the loss of my tragic youth, came the loss of my imagination, for the fuel of creativity had burned out. Now, I must dig deep for something worthy of fiction, I must retreat to the depths of my very being in order to pull out something worthwhile. And still, I find myself grappling with finding the emotion that comes with such rejection, such cruelty, such wickedness. I smile, realizing then, that happiness is not the great barrier, but fatigue, which is one step closer to dying.