by Bryan E. Hall
Everyone I know says they are looking for happiness, but none of them can truly define it and certainly cannot confidently prescribe a path to it. Like Love, it is something we all want but cannot know. It is an ideal, the perfection of which we cannot realize. So, first of all, I would suggest that progress is the most we can expect as nothing is perfect except in math for the sake of comparison of what we have to what we seek.
Letís consider an allegory of two twins, one seeking happiness and the other seeking perfection.
The one seeking happiness considers several definitions along his path.
First he considers the persuasive content of his employer, customers and salesmen, through the media and directly through conversation. He is lead to believe that happiness is pleasure. If he only had enough money and material possessions, and the distractions of the mind necessary to avoid pain, he would live in a constant state of ecstasy, pleasure.
So, this twin attempted this route and came to realize the competition, selfishness and the frustration of attempting the impossible, lead to greater misery. He found that pain was the necessary information upon which the body determines danger and illness. Pleasure, though it provided a sensation of well-being, sometimes distracted him from the necessities of life, and became painful in its results. When he experienced pleasure for long periods of time, he became unaware of its ecstasy, that only with the existence of pain could he appreciate the pleasure. As one poet said, "If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown!"
He soon found he needed balance and freedom from the seductive distraction of materialism, but that he could not completely, so he could be satisfied with progress toward that goal. In this, he chose to be happy with whatever life presented him, taking lessons and gaining strength, even from pain. He lived happily and forever resounded in life and the memory he left for others.
His twin became a great scientist, mathematician and artist, seeking to force life into the perfect equations he found in math, measuring the world with the most advanced tools and seeking to perfect the tools, and creating art which reflected perfect beauty and goodness as he saw it, and as he thought others should. He found he had not enough time in this life to develop the equations necessary to create a model by which life could thrive without impedance. Much less could he perfect the tools necessary to measure the success of his experiments. Despite his best efforts and love, he could not create art from which everyone derived pleasure.
He had a lifetime commitment to his goal of perfection, and he judged his twin brother mediocre and lazy for his choices. Meanwhile, he found the only perfect thing in the universe was in math. It was the number, zero, nothingness. So he then sought to destroy all things, eventually himself.
Happiness is a state of mind. It is the position from which we do not judge, for we cannot. It is the satisfaction of knowing we continue to exist among other people, animals, things, time and places, and that even after we may cease to exist, we are remembered forever as our energy and action resound and ripple through time and space.
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