A few days back, I listened earnestly to the NPR story about Gross National Happiness. Bhutan has a "Secretary of Happiness."
Happiness and I are not dear friends. As one who is prone to melancholy and pragmatism, perpetually happy people wear on me. They eat away at me, and not in the way of a sculptor's chisel, eating away at stone to reveal softer, lighter things. They eat away at my bearing of reasoned sense. It seems showy. Pretentious. Too good to be true. "Praise God," is often heard out of the type of person I am talking about, after getting a flat tire, running out of gas, or hitting themselves on the thumb with a hammer. The refrain: "God is good ---all the time. All the time --- God is good," reverberates through their life chords. Now, here is my mind's dichotomy: mined down, the belief in God's character may be the same as is these Happy Ones, yet, my interpretation varies greatly.
I don't think God wants, nor did He create us to be, happy at a constant rate of blissful velocity. I have learned many things, I have found "happiness" (although I'd term it as comfort) in pain. And not, only once the pain is past, but during its stay. I am not even sure I believe Happiness exists. Is being continually happy, even really healthy? For, where then is the tension, the breaking, the healing and growth out of matter once dead. This pain in my life makes me realize that I am alive, even when I'd rather not be. It wakes me to the truth that I can still feel...
And, it humbles me to the point of learning to accept things from others. Pain, and not only its physical manifestation, is the only thing that forces my independence to bow before it, kneeling in awe of its hold.
I might be single, but I am not alone...
...except tonight in eating. Back to the NPR story and Bhutan and its Secretary of Happiness.
The story acutely caught my attention, when The Secretary spoke of one of the aspects of life they measured, one of the indicators pointing to A Happy Life: how many times a week do you eat with family or friends?
I believe that here, at this point in the interview, I audibly guffawed.
Times a week? Until quite recently, this delicacy was measured in months.
Not always am I eating in monkish recluse, but know that eating "with" someone when their meal is comprised of something entirely different, is not eating "with" them. It's just not. There is no shared experience, aside from the physical space, although even that, is altered by taste sensation. Eating an apple in a room is entirely a different atmosphere than eating a baguette and bruchetta, accompanied by oil, vinegar and a split bottle of fine wine. It just is. Memories are tied to taste, and years from now when it's reminisced "remember that evening at the little Italian Place, when Joe told that story about..." well, you might remember the story exactly as he told it, but the experiential reception is different. Not bad. Just, different.
And, while I have grown comfortable and used to this -- I don't mind at all, really, I like apples -- it made me remember how unhappy it can be to not have someone to eat a meal with...to truly eat with.
Tonight, friends and family both, reassured in ways which were probably unknown to them at the time, that food will be eaten...together...soon.
This experience is shared...
~ Salad grossing Happiness ~