The Risk of Happiness

Remy Sharp – Untold Happiness (flickr)

The defect in happiness is that it fleets, leaks, and seeps. 

Like a bucket with a gun hole at its bottom, the happy liquid escapes, however slowly (or quickly), to ultimately leave one hollow with an empty pail that is ready for the next filling. 

Much of our aspirations tend towards living a happily ever after life. This notion, or abstraction, of the “happily ever after” for the majority of us, was first drilled into our skulls when we were children. The happily ever after nails were screwed in with color, story, song, and dance, all neatly wrapped in the form of fairy tales. Thank Disney for this.

After Cinderella and Snow White were rescued by their dreamy princes they gallop into the horizon to live “happily ever after.” With the thud of a closed book, we, the readers, imagine and know only of their happy closure because we see no more, and assume no morewe believe their happiness must be frozen/sealed. Yet, most of the time this happiness only appears as a flash at the very end: the vanishing tail of the fairy tale. The main chunks of these stories tell tales of struggle, sadness and evil. Happiness is the last wrapping we see, or the tied bow that covers the coarse gift. Who is to say that the gift does not come loose, and then unwrap when it is whisked from our sight after the end-page is turned? 


While to think so would be to think beyond the text, we cannot but wonder. We also cannot deny that we see happiness only when the story ends. We know not how long it lasts for. The “ever after” is meant to be a final resting place for the story so that these questions need not be asked. But still, would we believe it until we see it? Have we ever seen happiness last for an ever after? Our best approximation of this is in divinity and the realms of theology that exist beyond our mortal realms where happiness is eternal for those whose souls are blessed. Aka: Heaven.

So then what are we to make of this earthly happiness that we hold now? I’m of the impression that if we understand how happiness works in this life we might be better prepared to live with it and accept it for what it really is. I see it as a wave, ebbing and flowing, coming and going, never here for extended periods of time but always able to return to oneself. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a resting point, or a plateau, that you reach and set camp in. Not in this world anyway.


They say expectation is the root of all heartache. That is, if one has no expectations then one will never be disappointed. That is true. But to have no expectations runs the risk of not aspiring for happiness. With no expectations you will succeed in never being disappointed, but won’t you also risk succeeding in never relishing in the joy of anticipated happiness? Think about love here. Love is a risk. The irony of love is that it proclaims to be absolute and ever lasting, but is it? We’ve seen time and time again how “love”, the eternal binding cord that ties two lovers together, 
can come loose. And yet, knowing this, we still love. Why? Because the risk of happiness is worth it. The risk of happiness is that by having it you also expose yourself to the debilitating possibility of losing it and then missing it. Expectations might be the root of all heartaches, but you expect from lovers with faith that they will spare you from those heartbreaks. For if not, then what else?

Commons WikiMedia

So if your bucket of happiness is at its last drop, remember, you still have a bucket. It only needs its next filling. In this world, it will not be forever empty and neither will it be forever full. We carry that bucket with us, and how fast we want to fill it up again is all in our hands. Would you say so? Adieu. 

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