Many people nowadays have a view of happiness that involves, essentially, “letting it all hang out.” Those who are grieving the deaths of loved ones, however, may find it difficult to celebrate with abandon and wild glee: sobered by thoughts of those who are gone, and of all we have lost, we find the pleasure-seeking that used to seem so important now feels hollow, and not worthy of the pain we endure to get through each day of mourning.
There is another kind of happiness that I believe deserves consideration. It is a golden mean in which we do not seek the heights of joy, and avoid the lowest of the lows, by keeping an even keel. It involves living a life of integrity, keeping in mind the principles and values that are useful to the community and humankind, and maintaining a balance between the head and the heart. Doing the very best with whatever we have. In that way we have purpose, reason to keep going, and can feel a measure of satisfaction for what we are able to achieve.
We may still bottom out at times, and occasionally feel great joy, even ecstasy. Feeling joy is wonderful when it happens and it is a tremendous blessing! But for the most part, if we follow a generally middle path, we have real direction, and a greater chance, in my view, of making it through this indescribable thing called physical life.
What I am proposing is a coping-mechanism against the horror of our losses, yes, but I think it is a noble path. For me it is one I feel ever more drawn to follow, because I know that if I dwell continuously on my family’s tragedy it will destroy me…and that has nearly happened three times. I will always be a grieving father. Part of me will always be screaming and raging against the universe. In fact, I have inside me a silent scream that shall remain, because it is seared into my essence. But the thought of others, of each of you, your precious lives, and the thought of what our lives might achieve together, gives me inspiration to channel my thoughts toward you, and toward helping this earth-life be better for all of us. The grief will never leave me, nor do I want it to, but at least I have a means of being useful, and that gives me the chance for another kind of happiness: one that feels more authentic.
I wish all of you a very blessed new year. Together we can help it be a better one than any of us has ever known.
December 31, 2011