Happiness : Short, But Sweet for Certain






(photos) Funf Gemuse of Temps de Flors in Girona, Spain. A festival of flowers, that I have to see one day. so magic!

For the last ten years or so I have been dealing with some sort of major crisis at all times. Whether or not these are actual crises, or ones created by myself, or simply my way of over-exaggerating, is up for debate, but regardless : people close to me have come to realize "It's always something with Sam."
But not recently. Life is good. Too good. Maybe other people get to have it all, but not me. So I'm scared, terrified really, for when this all goes away. Sooner or later it will, because it has to.

But what do I do in the mean time? How do I keep the fear of falling from ruining this high?
There is an old parable about a man who is out in the woods walking when he crosses the path of a cougar. The cougar gets one sniff of his man-meat and begins chasing him, so naturally, the woodsman begins running. As he turns over his shoulder, only to see that the cougar is closing the distance between them, he stops watching where he is going and falls into a well. Tumbling, he grabs onto a branch and catches himself. He tries to regain his breath and prepares to lower himself into the water to wait for the cougar to leave, but as his foot touches the surface he hears the trashing of an alligator. So basically he is fucked. He'll die from above if he climbs out, and he'll die from below if he lets go. He can feel the branch slipping from his grip.
Leo Tolstoy, in his essay A Confession, uses a similar story to illustrate that we all die, we are all doomed in some way or another.
Then in the story something interesting happens. The woodsman sees on the branch he is clinging to a small drop of nectar on one of the leaves. His fingers are becoming weaker and the twig bends further, and his living moments are dwindling. But he uses his last bit of strength, lifts his head, and licks the honey.
By now, Tolstoy is feeling more than a little pessimistic and says that this shows how the small-but-good things in life are a futile distraction from own on impending death. Everything between the alligator and the cougar (what we call 'life') is pointless.

But I see something different.

I think the honey is the point. Yes the woodsman will die. Yes all good things must end. But in the space between, where worse and worst lie on either side, we have to lick the honey.

Death and dismemberment may lie at our feet, but before that comes, hold on for a second longer - and soak in the sweetness. That's all we can do - and I think knowing how short this kind of happiness is gives me one more reason to just enjoy it.

3 comments:

  1. What a great article Sam. It's true that sometimes the honey may be short and sweet, but to make the effort to take that last lick is what it's all about. Problems will always chase us, and the bottom is always a missed step away, but when you get caught in between it's truly a time to focus on the sweet things and push forward.

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  2. Sam, I think you're exactly right. We can't run around this life, staring at the troubles of our past or trying to avoid the troubles of our future. This past year I found myself honestly, truly, in-the-moment completely and utterly happy. I knew it wasn't going to last, there was a deadline on my time where I was. I wouldn't change a second of it, because happiness comes and goes, but thing thing is, it comes; and that, that is so important.
    -Monica

    p.s.
    But not recently. Life is good. Too good. Maybe other people get to have it all, but not me. So I'm scared, terrified really, for when this all goes away. Sooner or later it will, because it has to.
    that is me, to a T. I understand so much what you mean, hold on to it and enjoy it. :)

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  3. whenever too many good things happen consecutively, i get suspicious! but recently i've learned to enjoy it when things fall into place and most is well. i'm glad you're feeling happy and things are going your way. hopefully it continues!!

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