The End of Happiness

We never know what’s around the next corner, right? WRONG! Usually it’s exactly what we expect because we’ve been here before. Truthfully, most of us tread the same path day after day – toweling our bodies in the same fashion, brushing our hair the same way, and fixing our coffee the same way every friggin’ day. Same, same, same.

Sometimes, I feel safe and comfortable with sameness. I’m content, for the most part, when life goes as planned and I don’t screw up. It’s rewarding just to reach the end of a day and think, “everything worked out. Good night, Scott.”

But after awhile, I get bored and crave a change, that je ne c’est quoi that breaks through the sameness like a clap of thunder signaling a cool rainstorm on a hot summer afternoon. Sometimes, I need a shock to the system.

Truth be told, there were years when that need for a change was the reason I sought out the next drink, musical instrument on eBay or song to start but never finish. One of the laundry list items, you see, for those of us who grew up with an alcoholic in our midst, is our addiction to excitement, trait number 8 on said list.

It’s taken some years, but now I get most of what I need through healthier means. I’m proud of that evolution. It feels great to be a grownup instead of a wounded child in a man’s body. Thank God for God and for Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families.

So, what about the title of this post, then? Friends have said, “you sound better or changed” when they read this blog. True. I am. I have undergone a year that tested me and brought me to my knees many times. I have cried in my wife’s arms and once or twice thought it would be better to shuffle off this mortal coil and, perhaps, reunite with Bradley and others in the afterlife.

I’m much too stubborn to give up, though. And I could never do that to my loved ones. Suicide, it’s said, is the ultimate selfish act and I’m much too codependent. Ha! There’s a use for my character defects.

But I digress…

“The end of happiness” is meant to signal the end of dumb ways and shortcuts that I took to excite myself and/or distract myself from real life. Happiness, I’ve found, is living life to its fullest, not cutting myself off from that which is uncomfortable. Ironically, the path to contentment cuts straight through the path of pain. It’s like a mountain hike…we endure the upward trajectory to get to the view at the top. A chick must break through her shell to be born. A plant must push through the ground to find the warmth of the sun in itself. Nature is full of examples.

My prayers have been answered. By Grace, I now know that to understand grief I had to lose, to understand redemption I had to fail and to understand love I had to forgive myself.

And if I forget any of the above, these cycles will be repeating like a popular movie at your local cinema. The upward spiral of life includes more opportunities to fall down so that we can learn to get up, again and again.

Around the next corner? There’s light and love, yes, but also illness and, eventually, the death of our heroes, loved ones, and, ultimately, ourselves. But “it’s alright, it’s alright it’s alright. We can live forever blessed,” wrote Paul Simon. “And in the end, the love we take is equal to the love we make,” sang another Paul. It’s all “Part of the Plan,” chimed in Dan Fogelberg.

Happiness finds us. Instead of viewing them as scary corners with unfriendly surprises, maybe we can recall what Harry taught us over and over until he, too, had to leave us.

“All my life’s a circle;
Sunrise and sundown;
Moon rolls thru the nighttime;
Till the daybreak comes around.…”

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