All great things come to an end, but sometimes the end is even greater than what was before. Five weeks ago I launched a competition (“Twenty-Five-Hundred”) to give someone else a chance to reach a new audience and feature their thoughts on a new platform, and last week the deadline passed. It is with great pleasure that I announce Paola R. as the winner! Without further ado, the winning entry:
Some time ago, I was searching for a quote about happiness. Because for me, being happy, is one of the most important things. I have to admit that I read A LOT of quotes, but none of them really inspired me.
There was one by Henry David Thoreau appearing over and over again and the more I read it, the more I disagreed with it. To the point that I started to hate it deeply.
“Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.”
Sorry Thoreau, I don’t think you did a good job with this one.
Why would someone choose to compare happiness with a butterfly? Among ALL the animals, why to choose the one whose life is ephemeral? (Or really, really short, ranging from one week to one year maximum, in the case of some species).
We humans live a lot more than one year and if you tell me that I’m going to get only one year of happiness I start getting depressed and ask myself if life is worth living.
Then when/how do you get to be happy? Apparently, in order to be happy, you also need to be very lucky. And even so, it’s not sure that you’ll be happy for a long time.
So if I understood properly, you get to be happy for a little while IF:
1) The butterfly sits on your shoulder immediately after it gets to adult stage. That way you have better chances of being happy for longer time.
2) Then you need to be extra lucky and hope to get the butterfly that lives more than one week. (If you get the short living butterfly AND you get it the day it dies, what can I say?! You are screwed!).
And, if you don’t pursue happiness, what should you do? Start a knitting course? Wouldn’t it be better to get a butterfly net and catch as many as you can?
Then let’s say that finally the butterfly sits on your shoulder (AND it’s the long living one AND it sits on your shoulder the same day that it leaves its pupa stage), can you move and be happy or you have to vegetate because there is the chance that it’ll fly away and take YOUR happiness with it?!?
Paola’s thought process was so easy to follow and expressed the kind of feeling that we all get at times: what’s up with happiness, and why is it so hard to find? My answer to her is this: you are right that Thoreau is wrong. Happiness is not something that comes to you; it is something you search for and ultimately find, though not always in the form you wished for or in plain sight. Seeing the happiness is a skill you can acquire, and I encourage you to practice.
This is the part of the post where I get all mushy. I just wanted to take a minute, as I so often do, to tell you that this blog has been a source of great happiness for me and to thank you all for your part in that. I’ve been contacted, either through the comments section or my email address (firstname.lastname@example.org), by so many compassionate and thoughtful people who had kind words to share with me. I find it hard to express how much these kind words mean to me.
This is the part where I ask you for a favor. I want to expand this blog, but I don’t know how. Instead of it only being a place where the conversation takes place between you and me, I want it to be a place where the conversation takes place between you all. All of the advice you give to me, you can give to other people as well. All of the kind words? Other people could use them too. I’ll keep thinking about how to make this happen, but if you have any ideas I would love to hear from you.
Where you invest your love, you invest your life. –Awake My Soul, Mumford & Sons
P.s. Thank you so much to all of those who entered the competition, you are all very talented people!
I’m Paola, I’m a dreamer, I’m 42 years old and I have five kids. I never realized how much I loved writing until my real life started to suck terribly. I couldn’t leave my life, so I decided to write a story. I posted the chapters on my blog (http://dotedon.wordpress.com). The story became a book and hopefully I will publish it soon. After one year intermission, I started writing again.