Richard Carnes: Not happy in the valley of
I am a nice guy.
Really, ask around. I am.
I don’t cheat, lie, steal, do drugs or drink (to excess).
I love my wife, adore my kids, enjoy the hell out of my dog and make charitable donations whenever I think it is deserved and can afford to do so (which isn’t as often as it used to be, but is finally headed back in the right direction).
But if I hear one more bloviating spouse of either flavor suddenly announcing to the world they want a divorce because they are “not happy,” I swear to Zeus I’m gonna pay a really un-nice person named Guido to kidnap the selfish other half in question, shove them into a large shipping crate with stale power bars and bottled water I refilled from the tap, punch holes in the top (for fresh air) and bottom (for drainage), and ship them straight to Haiti so they can learn the true meaning of the phrase “not happy.”
Seriously, I’m sick and tired of the whole “grass is greener” nonsense, particularly when knowing that just about every heifer that ever had her head stuck between a barbed wire fence quickly learns it’s the same grass no matter which side you’re on.
Happiness is not something you chase down or carry around in your wallet or keep in your car console for those “special occasions” after dropping the kids off at a friend’s for the night.
It can be as simple as biting into a Larkburger on a Friday night, or as complicated as receiving a long-deserved raise and suddenly being able to make an offer on that house, or as internal as the feeling that washes over a brand new parent the first moment they hold their newborn.
The younger we are, the simpler the description. To a 5-year-old it can be a well-timed candy bar, while an 11-year-old can be absolutely ecstatic with a good grade on a math test or a nice smile from a cute girl.
Teenagers, although prone to years of indifference towards happiness itself, have been known to smile upon receiving unexpected concert tickets or the moment of receiving a driver’s license.
But reaching middle age and “suddenly” discovering your life has not turned out the way you wanted is about as unenlightening an epiphany as realizing rocks fall in Glenwood Canyon.
And before a few readers climb up on their imaginary high horse or think they’re being singled out by these words, trust me, this is about no one in particular yet a great many in general.
Being happy is so much more than merely not being unhappy. It can’t be purchased, sold, elected or voted for, but can be found by simply looking at what one has as opposed to what one thinks they are missing.
They need to stop wasting their lives in these silly, extended, self-directed, over-produced dramas searching for nirvana, especially when chances are it’s been right in front of them the entire time all along.
Not all instances are quite so simplistic, of course, but you get the point.