Most people, or at least the majority of people I know, have immense trouble conceiving the idea that balance is necessary in this world. It doesn’t make any sense to say that in order for one to be happy, one must be sad. But indeed, that is the case. How else are we to understand what happiness truly is unless our souls have hurt once before?
It’s difficult for people to find comfort in that. If they do, they have to admit to themselves that this feeling is just, that the gods have the right to make them feel this pain. They have to admit that they have felt this pain before, and that they will likely feel this pain again. They know that they will, it is inevitable, but that makes it so much harder to say out loud. Now that they’ve felt the feeling, they don’t ever want to feel it again. They want immediate relief, they want justice as their eyes see it. They want happiness, and that’s all they want.
It is why people with incredibly rich and fortunate lives are never truly happy. We’ve seen it all before: the fake smiles at cocktail parties, the conversations that entail nothing but a rant and a rave of all the good things their life has included, their biggest concerns being the state of the economy though their wallet is fat. The fabulously well to-dos. They piss the rest of us off, so much, because they have everything that we could want except for a smile on their face. Why, in God’s name, won’t they smile?
And that’s when I begin to feel sorry for them, because I know that they have never experienced true sadness. It doesn’t make sense, to wish them sadness for the sake of their own smile, but it’s true. Every time my heart aches, I know it’s because my heart has been able to feel a happiness to contrast it with in the past, so I remind myself that this, too, will pass into another happiness that I will be able to comprehend even better than if it had been handed to me on a silver platter. I am able to appreciate every step of my life. These people, however, have nothing to contrast their good fortune with. They have never known any different. So even though they have countless possessions and numerable loved ones, they will simply glide through their life in mediocre contentment, then reach the end wondering what the point was.
I seem to have a very different problem. In my sadness, I am able to pull myself out with the promise of happiness on the other side. But in my happiness, should it last too long, come at me too suddenly, or be too great, I get scared. I become afraid that I haven’t experienced enough hardship in my life to take full advantage of my happiness, so this moment either should not belong to me, or will become balanced by some future heartache I’ve yet to know. Is it only in retrospect that the true fortune of my life will become clear to me? Do I have the right to this happiness only by some sadness that will surely come? I live my happiness in fear of undeserving paranoia. It is only in the sadness that I truly feel deserving.
Perhaps the fear, itself, is evidence of the balance. I’ve learned to be wary of my fortunes, to not take them for granted, to work hard for them on my own terms rather than take them from others or wait until it falls in my lap. I’ve learned that the latter of these never happens. I’ve learned that as I take, surely one will take from me. From these lessons I have gained understanding of the strength that I possess, my abilities to put it into action, and the balance of the world working in beautiful, mysterious ways of which, though I cannot understand, I can surely take advantage.
I had my spirituality read to me last night. Tim Blake Nelson (you know, one of those idiots with George Clooney in O Brother, Where Art Thou?) read it to me through Edward Norton who was acting as an unsuccessful drug dealer. He said to me this:
It’s the only way to make sense of all this. Otherwise it’s just pure fucking chaos. I think it’s more like, like parallel lines. You know, like two lines go on and on forever and don’t ever touch. ‘Cept… ‘cept they don’t actually exist in nature. And man can’t create no true parallel. It’s just more of a concept. I learned that shit in high school geometry. Well, that concept, that perfection… we know it exists, and we think about it. But we can’t never get there ourselves. I think that right there is God.