October 23, 2023•578 words
I think I've been groping too hard at happiness lately. Whenever I try to plan my happiness, the thing ends up being okay but also disappointing somehow. I guess it can't measure up to the expectation, the fantasy. Reality almost never can, and yet reality can also be surprisingly nourishing in completely unexpected moments. Sitting in a room, alone or with others, and suddenly feeling happiness, peace, love welling up. Rising out of nowhere, filling the body/mind, lingering for a while and then dissolving again. Unplanned, unpredictable.
Even talking about it creates a kind of pressure somehow. Pressure to feel joy instead of some other set of feelings while doing something, or even at all. Then it makes it seem like a problem if the joy doesn't come. But happiness and joy, it seems, are like a skittish cat. They won't come if they're being waited on expectantly. They just show up when they will while I'm immersed in whatever I'm doing, or they don't and that's that.
There's such a tendency to try to reduce life to a set of formulae - if I do this, I'll feel like this. If I do this, I'll get this. If I do this, this'll happen. And, especially when it comes to feelings, life rarely fails to disappoint and surprise. Thinking that because it worked once, it'll work again. And then when it doesn't, disappointment, despondance, despair. It seems that it's just not the way life works.
In this moment, it seems to me that there really is nothing for it but to give life over to Life, or God or Tao or the universe etc. To surrender to whatever each day brings, without any expectation that it will fulfill or feel any particular way. Just going with it, sincerely and completely. Saying okay, this is it, this is what's happening. And here I am, here for it with my whole being, ready to experience and respond. Maybe happiness will come, or maybe some other feelings, and I'll feel them. Because it's all part of what it is to be human. Maybe moving towards and away from certain things, but embracing whatever comes lightly, with a light touch. Without placing expectations on them to fulfill. Maybe leaning towards some environments that are more likely to be enjoyed. Just more likely, not certain to but more likely. Or maybe even that's too much, I don't really know.
Either way, remaining open and flexible rather than rigidly attuned to past experiences over the present moment. Something worked in the past so it might work again, but it might not. It might be time for something entirely new. And there's no way to anticipate it mentally. It just needs to be encountered, and new encounters can only be had in the present if the grip of the past is loosened. If I'm not bound to memories and the process of avoiding or recreating them.
Giving life over to Life. That's humility, I guess. Accepting that I really don't know what will make me happy and what won't. But I know happiness comes and goes unexpectedly, so I trust that it'll come again. Accepting the limitations of the thinking, calculating, remembering mind and handing the reigns over to Life to lead where it will. Enjoying this moment for what it is, not what it was or could be. Letting go of the old formulas. Even letting go of happiness. And just living. Sincerely, completely.