Thursday & Friday of this week, we had springtime weather, and I spent some lunchtime doing some barn cleaning, and my mood was sky-high, and I don’t need people making fun of me that I get such a natural high cleaning up goat shit or ferrying goat shit to my garden which I’ll be doing later this year, that’s not the POINT. The point was I was so absolutely perfectly happy… “I love my life” I kept thinking. Lapsing into a Monty Python accent, “THIS, is GOOD!” This is it! This is the perfect life! This is all I need… and to get out now and then for a beer. Lapsing into Latke from TAXI, “Then you be happy.”
Yesterday of course it was winter again, and it was Saturday, and I actually don’t do well with a lot of unstructured time. I was depressed as all hell. And yet I was outside of my depression, marveling at it. “This is obviously not some sort of referendum on my life,” I thought – just the day before, the verdict was in, life was PERFECT, no?
Moods are never life referendums. They just come, go, ebb, flow. They’re influenced by externality but no matter how good or bad that externality may be, the moods tend to revert to the mean, and ebb and flow. I think there are exceptions. I can’t put it into perfect words, but there’s a difference between having a particular life circumstance – born rich and a famous success, or born in a shtetl or slum and always scrambling for the next meal – which does NOT affect overall mood (tons of ‘successful’ people kill themselves; interviews with prostitutes in Calcutta find they are on average as happy as anyone else). But I think there are circumstances having to do with awful things being out of your control, of a happier existence just always out of reach, I’m not sure – but I know that I didn’t have much significant happiness the three years my father was dying; and overall that was an exception to my general mood levels, which tend to just ebb and flow.
The recent novel I read, Midnight Library, gave me ideas that I hadn’t seriously entertained before, that have stuck with me (making it by definition an excellent book); that you simply cannot be happy all the time, that all our striving for precisely that, is something we can’t help but do (who’s gonna strive to be UNhappy, after all)… but when you think that the decisions you’ve made are responsible for your happiness or unhappiness, you’re sorely misguided. The decisions you make result in external circumstances that nudge your mood. But they are never going to amount to a happy or unhappy life (again, extreme exceptions exist). Your life is going to average out and contain happiness and unhappiness, no matter what you do.
It’s quite freeing.