Saturday, October 15, 2011

I had a really good pottery class this week - overcame a production block and started throwing bigger than I have ever thrown. It felt so good that I almost wanted to cry driving home in the dark afterwards. Instead I sang along in the empty car at the top of my lungs until my throat got scratchy. It felt amazing. 


The day before my class had been just despicable with technical problems at work with equipment and a flurry of demands. I had been so happy to run away to my class that night, and it had been so delicious to have it turn out so much better than expected.The next day seemed to drain all the happiness right out of me. Morning came too soon and too cold. The dog was a twit on his 6:00am walk and wouldn't listen. I barely made it to work on time. The usual slow Friday morning turned into a chaotic mess, I felt like a dishrag, and I was committed to keep doing things all day long until supper. And I asked myself why it is that we have to pay for our little moments of happiness with almost equal adversity. 


What really is the cost of our bliss moments? It's never really free, is it? Is there a ratio of enjoyment to drudgery that we could actually learn to expect so it doesn't seem so unfair or unbearable? I don't know. 


It happens with everything really. I have to put in a fair bit of preparation at storytime to make sure there are enough books and the craft is actually possible for everyone to finish. Sometimes I spend hours getting it all ready for a craft that takes at best 5-7 minutes to finish. And often it seems like such a waste. But for those times when it really comes together and works perfectly and the children want to keep doing it and never go home, it seems like the price was small. Or what about those times when you're outside experiencing glorious fall colours in a soft-kiss breeze under a sun-drenched sky and you honestly feel like life could be a musical? Then you wake up the next day to sub-zero temperatures, gray skies and general meteorological misery and ask it if was really enough. My life seems to be full of these stark contrasts, and I feel a little guilty for wishing it was all euphoria without despondency, because I don't know if that's even possible or wise. 


It usually comes down to what we expect. Happiness is a noun. So is fun. But happiness implies a state of being where one is able to feel pleasure and contentment. Fun is more transitory. It is enjoyment, amusement and light-hearted pleasure. It implies something that is expected to be momentary. We expect happiness to be more lasting somehow. So are we mistakenly defining our moments as happy moments when we should call them fun moments? But fun sounds more irresponsible somehow - like it's something good sensible people use with discretion. While happiness seems so much more noble and acceptable as an objective. So am I misdiagnosing my moments? I don't think so. It's definitely contentment. It's not just pleasure. A chocolate is pleasure. A hard-earned victory after adversity is happiness. 


So how do I teach myself not to wish my happiness had a longer duration all the time? I don't know. Maybe I need more practice. Because I don't know if you can really experience happiness with out the balancing unhappiness before or after. We have no frame of reference without it. And I think it's too easy to mix up fun with happiness and think you're seeking happiness when you're actually just becoming addicted to fun. And addictions are never satisfied. Maybe that's the answer. The real difference is the contentment factor. A happy moment is a contented moment. A fun moment is a pleasure moment that's not designed to last. So I'll just have to keep asking myself if I'm feeling satisfied or just enjoying myself. Probably a better test. In the meantime, I'm going to go and throw a big bowl and hope for happiness rather than fun.