Happiness is not some thing to be pursued. It is something practiced, practiced or imagined. Though, given, what is imagined is not always otherwise than real. Happiness happens, is an event. It takes place, in time. Time takes place, births forth in the material, in the physical. It is not touch. It is touching. Always, time is event, moment. Only after this is it chronology, narrative.
Time is not money. Time is life. Time is that temporal place where living happens. Living happens in time. Living, yes, but also that event we name with the word “boredom,” that slow sudden decent into a living death, the birth of zombies. Oh yes, we succumb to this little death, we give into it often and often far too easily.
We all get bored. Or at least most of us do. “There’s nothing to do,” we think, or “I don’t want to do anything.” And so we kill time. And then we wonder why we feel a little dead inside. And then we numb the deadness by escaping it. And then we wonder why we feel like zombies. And then we numb the zombieness by escaping it.
Having nothing to do shouldn’t feel like boredom. Especially for busy folk who often lack free time it should feel like freedom. Why doesn’t it? Because there’s no distraction from the moment, and in the moment the self get mirrored, grows, becomes a strange and untamed and untamable beast. For those set on pursuing happiness this is ruinous. It is no less ruinous for those who pursue happiness but value the journey just as much or more than the definition. And yet we kill ourself by killing time. Most of us don’t do it on purpose. Most of us say it but don’t mean it, don’t think we mean it. “I was bored so I killed some time.” Translation: “I was empty and I killed myself for a while.” Kierkegaard wasn’t wrong when he said boredom is a little death. But this little death doesn’t bring pain so much as lethargy.
We are waking creatures, you and I are, and we are creatures who create, who produce. Happiness is not some wounded gazelle to be pursued. Happiness isn’t some wounded gazelle, and more importantly, we are not lions, you and I aren’t. We’re not that strong and happiness is neither weak nor wounded. It is potent, happiness is, and essentially overwhelming. It is happiness, not us, that overpowers. Happiness is what arrives, is what happens, when we feed others with our own efforts, it is what takes us when we sustain those around us. Practicing happiness like a tree practices spring, summer, autumn, and winter, like a fruit tree practicing flowering and bearing fruit and then becoming naked in autumn for the sake of spring and flowers and fruit, this is not unlike how happiness is practiced for us. We practice our seasons for a time, never mastering them. We don’t have time enough to master our seasons, our life. There’s not enough time in a life to master living, so why do we practice dying so readily? It’s that mirror, isn’t it?
The moment we’re not immediately needed, the moment between obligations and routines and rituals when we’re left only with ourselves, when we’ve already exhausted our escapes and we’re not yet ready to call the day done, it’s in those moments when we feel most trapped, most vulnerable, most in a corner and frightened. It’s in those moments that the pursuer and the prey are one.
How long has it been? How long has it been since you were content with what happiness and hope you yourself are?
Don’t return that favor. I don’t have an answer. Lord, have mercy. I don’t have an answer. I’m trying. That is all. I’m trying not to have an answer but to have a response.
Time is life. Time is that place where living happens, that place where what happens arrives. Happiness arrives, knocks, and is refused or is welcomed. It is not chased. You and I, we welcome happiness or else we don’t. Sometimes it arrives unexpected, becomes suddenly “there” or “here.” Most times it arrives unannounced, uninvited, and we’re sitting there after the work, maybe also after the gym, being bored, eyes chained to screens, the little-ease of our present age, our intimate monism.
My own slow suicides? My own addiction to a screen? My own often giving into boredom? My own chasing after happiness and my pride in saying I don’t? Don’t ask me that. Not yet. I’m too weak. I think I’m too big. I’m only learning. Please. Don’t ask. Only do ask. But ask me at another time. Please teach my myself. I don’t want to die alone so often. I want to die for someone, for something. Please. Help me learn.