We’ve all heard, or read, or seen the syndicated version of this story.
A regular Joe or Jane is stumbling through life. Then he or she discovers a life goal: return ring to lava-spouting mountain / burn everyone in sight with your dragon babies and claim your birthright/ take down a terrorist network using just toothpicks and bubblegum. And after successfully completing said task, Mr. Joe or Ms. Jane would kick back, sip on something cold and live Happily Ever After.
In the real world, the story would go something like this. Joe leads a regular life. One day, he comes up with an idea for a device that’ll charge mobile phones using kinetic energy. The more you move around the more your phone gets charged. He networks and gathers a group of people who are equally excited by the idea. Together they go about developing, patenting and manufacturing the device.
After 5 years of struggle and a few close shaves with bankruptcy, Joe finally gets funding and goes to market. The product’s a hit, his company is listed and he’s a billionaire. Happily Ever After, right?
Wrong. This is the real world. So, six months after Joe becomes Joe Incorporated, Mr. Mi Tu in China starts making and selling the same device for half the price. Shares of Joe’s company start trading at less than half the price, and the board of directors put together a plan to fire Joe from his own company.
Now Joe has a new life goal. Make his product better. Or come up with a new product. And after he’s done that, guess what? He’ll have to start all over again.
And that’s my problem with stories that end with Happily Ever After. I grew up thinking I’ll work hard and do this one great thing, and then I’ll be set for life. When it did not work out that way, I got depressed. I thought I was doing it wrong, or that happiness was just not meant for me.
After a few encounters with what I thought were HEA moments, and getting really upset at each one not being It, I’ve come to realize this: The best you can hope for is a brief glow of success, a break to wipe away the sweat, and maybe a good foot massage. Then it will be time to start all over again.
I think stories should end like so: He wrote an article. People loved it, shared it, and recommended it. And then he was Happy For A While. After which he started doing something else, hoping that at the end of it he would be Happy For A While again.