Sunday, February 8, 2009

What is happiness?

Happiness is a more abstract concept than most people recognize.  It is illogical and it doesn't have set prerequisites; some of the most successful people are miserable, and many of the most poor and down-trodden find glimmers of happiness in important places.  I think it must have become a biological imperative not just for the human being to be able to feel the full gamit of emotions, but to have to feel them.  The human body has to cycle through all of its states or it becomes overburdened somehow, it becomes too much of one state to take.  We are not made to live on the plateau of happiness.  In fact, it is only because the troughs that we can truly experience the divine.  
In all of my most memorable musical experiences, whether I was creating the music or standing in audience to its creation, there were moments of extreme feeling- plateaus created by harmonic activity, dynamics, and other less tangible features.  But the music wasn't created to stay there; those moments are rare in comparison to the general attitude of the music, and for good reason.  Musicians and listeners alike become over indulged in constant peaks, grow weary, and out pops the tylenol.  
The general dull of everyday life is the great canvas we live in, with little spouts of divine color at the most important moments.  The birth of a child, the rush of love, the loss of love- these are the colors made to contrast the general grey of life.  And this isn't even just concerning happiness, any high is too high to be maintained too long.  We are meant to eventually sober ourselves and come back to the plane of business as usual.  True, for some it's possible to maintain a more elevated state for longer, but everyone has a personal comfort zone. 
And this has really been an aside to a personal question I've had for a long time, namely, "Am I happy?"  When I go to sleep at night, am I happy?  Not am I proud of what I've accomplished, not do I think I'm a good person, no did I have a good time today, but "Am I happy?"  Because, even though these are obvious contributors to happiness, they are not happiness.  The happiness is made by each individual in their head, in some personal equation we can never understand.  And while the individual variables might be high in quantity, when the general equation is set up to yield low results it will be increasingly difficult to find real happiness.  
But I don't really know.  I probably think too much, and I still haven't made any point in this post.  

1 comment:

Alan Bahr said...

Here is what's wierd, Aaron. There were times when I was very unhappy--like when I was running a trading desk and finding no socially redeeming aspect to it--but now that I look back, it's with a great deal of nostalgia. Why is that? There are certain smells and even a quality of humidity in the air that puts me right back into that time and I get this strange tingle that can almost be described as joy. I don't understand it--not one bit.