Untitled Essay

All in all, despite everything, I am really thrilled to be alive. Despite all the heartache and turmoil ravaging the planet and its people, I am happy. Headlines can temporarily numb me, personal disappointments can shake my faith in humanity, but ultimately I will prevail, and I already have, so far. To be happy, or maybe to come close to a sort of inner peace, one must acknowledge despair and its deeply ingrained role in our lives. We must live with and be able to cope with atrocity- for it is a reality- if we are ever to call ourselves content. Atrocity is an inevitability but our ability to hold onto hope throughout the ordeal is not. The only way to keep a firm grasp on sanity, and a loose hold on happiness, is to remember that hope exists somewhere outside of our vision, and when we have time once again to look around, we will surely find it. Disparaged we may be, but that doesn't mean we cannot be happy. Happiness as a general content feeling, anyway, is a vastly different phenomenon than those fleeting moments of exuberance we feel at certain times, whether it be for the thrill of first love or the satisfaction of an extraordinary meal. We feel that momentary excitement from time to time, but that isn't what makes us happy.

To be happy, we must understand and experience more than those fleeting moments. We must have a relationship with both despair and exuberance; we must learn both to cry and smile- sometimes both at once. So when I call myself happy, do not picture me trapped in a cage of exhausting exuberance but rather learning to accept a content sensation for the long run- a feeling that constantly depends on cultivation and understood experience.

To be happy, or content, one must also invite the future which is already pounding down the doors we sometimes tend to lock. We must welcome this faceless friend to wrap us in its arms and deliver us through broken-down doors into unpredictable but entirely exciting new territory. We cannot fear the future. We cannot fear it because we cannot avoid it. A comfortable impossibility will ultimately lead to disappointment, and will only disrupt happiness. Understanding that tomorrow may be cloudy or much worse is crucial. I don't mean that we should expect the worse, or look forward to nothing. Instead, we should resist the temptation to surrender hope to failed expectations. Rather than formulate expectations, we might try instead to cultivate an intense yearning for tomorrow and all of the new days after that. We should learn to be content knowing not that good or bad will come our way, but that something- anything- is bound to come barreling out of tomorrow and into today.

But my words are hollow. I feel happy. I feel deeply in love with the world and I marvel at my simple existence in the midst of it. I feel grateful and lucky to live among such beautiful but difficult people, to uncover unsettling and incredible new discoveries about myself, to face such challenging times, and to feel a genuine satisfaction and mixed skepticism for what I make of my life. I'm happy for more reasons than I care to list here, or that you care to hear. Besides, I don't need to validate my happiness to you. Synthesizing my happiness into a few paragraphs of advice that is hardly universal ultimately means nothing. I just write this to reassure you that I'm okay. You may or may not care, but at least you know. Maybe, just maybe, my words will echo in the ears, long after this is read, of someone who needed a new outlook on their day. Don't forget that hope is intangible- it simply cannot burn up in the flames of our world's mistakes.

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