If someone stopped you in the street and asked you to name 5 things (I can’t shake the 5 things format, I just can’t) that you were happy with in your life, could you do it? You know, apart from wondering why this stranger is asking you such a personal question – could you name 5 things in your life that make you actually happy? I asked myself this same question as I was trying to sleep the other night, and was surprised by the answer.
I can’t do it.
5 things. 5 fucking things that make me happy and I can’t do it. I’m not trying to whinge or ask for sympathy or attention, nor am I trying to play up to the “angry, ranting misanthrope on the internet” persona that so many bloggers seem to have (myself partially included in that). As the thought occurred to me while I tried to sleep, I sat up in bed and wrote a note to myself to focus on this at some point in the next week, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do. I can’t shake the thought either, and I’m afraid to ask other people for fear of getting strange looks or pitying “What’s going on?” head-tilts. But you don’t get those reactions on the internet.
So what makes you happy?
I started writing the list out. When I started, I felt a little silly and that’s because I was treating it as a silly exercise; maybe because I was trying to be funny, my way of coping with any situation I’m uncomfortable in. I’ll be honest, the initial draft of the list was quite literally a list of food (not to be mistaken with my ever-growing list of foods that I could happily eat continuously until I die like the mother from ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape’) and some films that make me laugh. But they don’t count. Those, to me, are passing thrills that give me a hollow sort of happiness. The happiness I’m talking about is more to do with circumstance, what you’ve achieved, and who you are as a person. Early on in this exercise I realised with startlingly clarity that I have nothing, I’ve done nothing, and I am nothing.
I think it’s a common feeling among people my age and a few years either side. Whether it’s that classic excuse of us having been robbed of our future because of universities fees and the housing market BLAH BLAH BLAH; or the idea that the increased amount of time spent on the internet, communicating via social networking sites rather than face-to-face, and the lack of inspiration role models due to the quick-fix nature of reality television shows full of airheads whose only ambition is to be rich – whatever the reason, I know I’m not alone in feeling that something is missing, though I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly it is.
In the days after this question popped up in my head, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I felt like it needed to be taken really seriously, and I still think it does. It made me think about my habits and the way I live, and how I don’t gear anything towards my own happiness, really. Well, one thing, and it’s not really a difficult thing to do. It’s the first serious thing on my list.
If I was given a choice between anything and music, I would always choose music. Try me.
Music or… television? Bread? Oxygen? I’d die happy, starved and suffocating to the strains of Rachmaninov sounds like a wonderful way to go. I urge you to listen to that piece. My favourite piece instrumental music ever. It just sings.
Yes, music makes a lot of people happy, that’s the wonderful thing about it. It makes me particularly happy because for one thing, I’m lucky enough to have had musical training from a young age, and an understanding of music has become second nature to me (as it does with most instrumentalists who started young), so that if I hear something on the radio or in passing – a chord progression, a melodic shape or simple harmonic pairing that catches me off guard and sticks with me – I can go home and try to recreate it without much difficult. I was fortunate enough to have music lessons from the age of six, so I more or less know what I’m doing. That said, that doesn’t make my enjoyment of music any more or less valid than anyone else – that’s the great thing about music. Though I have to say, these days I feel like the general public is being gradually tricked into thinking that mimicking a recording of an already over-sung song constitutes talent over the practice and focus that it takes for someone to immerse themselves in a piece of music, give themselves over to it while remaining in control enough to leave their own mark on it.
But the weird thing for is that I’ve noticed in the last few months or so – I couldn’t possibly pinpoint *when* exactly – that one of the few times I feel any change in myself emotionally is when I listen to music. The rest of the time it’s like that part of me is just static on the television in the background, so it’s nice when it finally comes to life.
So that’s one thing.
2) My friends & family
How cheesy is this – I love my friends and I love the fact that they even are my friends. My friends aren’t in my life because of superficial reasons – if that were the case, I’d have been alone for a long time. But the people in my life are all genuinely funny, and I’m lucky that my friends are content with friendship based on extreme amounts of riffing and stupid accents, and don’t get annoyed with me when I take a month to reply to a text message. My friends make me happy. And my family are just as awesome – definitely have my moments with them, but for the most part it’s pretty easy going.
Well, I just need 3 more… while I’m thinking of mine, let me know some of yours.