Happiness: It’s Complicated

Moments ago I left my sick little girl snuggled in bed with her father so I could sneak a few hours of paper grading into the weekend.

The 49ers just won yet another game in their recent streak and are now headed to the superbowl and our neighborhood is alive with (drunken) celebration. People are hanging out of cars, honking their jubilation. Crowds are spilling out of bars, embracing in their celebration. Flags are waving, jerseys are flapping. Everyone is ecstatic.

When did my own happiness become so complicated? I can’t remember when I last felt that kind of simple joy, that unencumbered bliss. I can’t remember when I felt joy without the heavy trappings of reality.

Happiness has become so convoluted, so entangled in everything else. The joy of my daughter is burdened by the ache of wanting another child. The simple pleasures enjoyed with my partner are overshadowed by our constant obligations. The moments to myself are embargoed by the never ending responsibilities. There is joy in my life, but it comes with strings attached. It’s just so much more complicated that it ever used to be.

I want that brand of simple happiness again. I want joy unencumbered.

Maybe some day I’ll find my way back to it again.


4 responses

  1. I figure that happiness isn’t the same as an adult, it’s small things and tiny moments that hold happiness now. It’s hard when those moments get complicated with “if only” feelings too, but the happiness is still there. Yesterday after shopping, the kid climbed up on the spouse and snuggled in to go to sleep. It was so adorable and made me really happy, and yet it comes with the emotions that go with it (what if this is the last time that happens? what if there’s never another baby to do that cute snuggling/snoozing thing? oh my EMOTIONS). So I guess, for now, I will take my happiness with a side of “it’s complicated.”

  2. I don’t know. I found that happiness, those simple joys in simple things, right at the time when I was finding life the hardest. I found it when I was in hospital with my second ectopic, suspected cancer and faced with (for the first time, that is) the prospect of not being able to have kids at all. I needed the escape of a few seconds or a minute of joy, and took it in the colours of the pohutukawa trees out the window, or the joke on a sitcom, or (once out of hospital) the feeling of the sun on my back, or the taste of a gelato. Taking little tiny moments of pure joy helped me through the worst times. Because these moments are so easy to ignore/take for granted when we are feeling good, I think it is more important (if we can) to grasp them when we are feeling overwhelmed. And it won’t necessarily be what others find makes them happy (ie the 49ers win, or even joy in Isa – which as you say is complicated now), but hopefully there will still be little things that bring you joy. And that joy, however fleeting it may be, is what gave me the hope, no, the knowledge, that I would be okay, whatever came.

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