Listen, we deserved the break. Amongst all the issues we’re embroiled with currently, I felt we had earned just a little breather. So this Sunday last, C and myself got all gussied up (apparently a dying art, these days) before going downtown to catch the final local performance of “Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert.”
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We had a blast, and I dare say that I never wanted it to end. Planning on making an evening of it, we were only slightly miffed when we discovered that our favorite late night restaurant is most decidedly not very “late night open” when it comes to Sunday. Catching the Wendy’s drive-through window instead, we settled onto the couch for a late night snack, before hitting the sack. As is her way, C went off to bed in order to sleep. As is my way, I went off to bed in the hopes that we would be doing any number of things, but sleep.
As is her way, C won out in the end.
I woke the next morning feeling odd, out of sorts, almost as if something were amiss. The songs from the musical played over and over on my mental radio, as I performed the tasks I daily perform to almost get paid, but they provided me with no real joy – nothing close to what I felt the night before. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what I was feeling, until the very second that the Daily Post’s prompt came stumbling across my email. Their prompt for the day punched me square in the gut, when they asked “Are you living happily ever after?” A question that the very core of my being answered immediately – and almost violently – with a “No. No I am not living happily ever after. No I am not even close to that. What in the hell is wrong with me?”
A valid question I think, to end an almost sinful assertion. I mean, what right do I have to not be living happily ever after? Just what more do I expect needs to be in place for this happiness to finally hit?
Well, I believe the problem is two-fold. First, I feel that “happily ever after,” is a bit of a cop out. One devised by early story tellers who just wanted to be done with the whole thing already, and no questions being asked, thank you very much. Secondly, I believe that much like the characters in my last Mash-up prompt, I sometimes (read: way too often) spend too much energy chasing a happiness that I think I deserve, instead of simply relishing in the Joy already bestowed upon me.
Listen, catching a good show can be fun, but one should never get so dragged into it (no pun intended) as to start to wish that that was what their real life was like. Real life isn’t that easy or free. Real life doesn’t involve people randomly breaking out into song. But that doesn’t mean that real life shouldn’t be appreciated or isn’t worthwhile. Indeed, real life is the only life to be lived, regardless of how many of us never do.
The Daily Prompt also asked us to explain how we would go about changing ourselves so that “happily ever after” could be obtainable. To that, I’ve no answer but one: I’m going to just get over myself. I’m going to stop being so damned dramatic, stop wishing for things I don’t have, start enjoying the blessings I do have, and realize every day that real life ain’t easy, but it’s worth it regardless.
That, and I’m also going to give this randomly breaking out into song thing a go as well. You may want to cover your ears.
Getting my assignment in by the skin of my teeth, and fearing a solid C+ (at best) will result from this week’s efforts, here is my submission for week # 7 of Master Class 2013.
Clever how the cosmos can, in a single portent, be ingratiating yet sadistic. Neither one of them would have said it in that fashion, of course. Hell, neither one of them would’ve known the meaning of words such as these.
No, to them it was just all about chasing Happiness. Looking for something that can’t be found unless it wants to.
You see, Happiness is a lot like Love in that it simply pops in unannounced, where and when it wants, only to leave again in a similarly random fashion. You can’t “find it” any more than you could summon a unicorn to do your bidding. Still, they both spent their entire shared existence searching vainly for it’s light. A search, that by it’s very nature, made what was sought after unobtainable. Hidden forever from them both.
The cosmos may have given them each other, but instead of basking in that Joy, they wasted their years together, merely searching for a lesser satisfaction.
“This week, to keep things interesting, I asked Steph to choose the first line from the fifth chapter of any book of her choosing. She chose Three Junes by Julia Glass.”
At a certain point, while waiting for the Rueben that would end up being sanitized of flavor and eaten alone, I opened my portfolio and started scribbling the following:
Sitting alone, I rage at this world for no reason in particular. This world, that does nothing to shake me off, but yet embraces me not either.
I often wonder, is it me who is “wrong”, or is it this mortal coil who is in error?
And why do I feel such a deep and gaping disconnect? Why can’t I just drink the Kool-Aid everyone else here has seemed to indulge so greedily in? Why can’t I put on the mask of contentment and believe it to be true?
Why in the fuck am I sitting alone in an over-the-top Vegas cafe on the verge of tears?
From moijoie (click on image for more)
Now I must tell you, while I would very much like to edit a great deal of the above, I’m leaving it intact for the purpose of this post. A purpose I’m still unclear of, actually. I’m leaving it like it is, because while it may not be a very good read, the words came with immediacy and with intent. The words needed to come out before the tears did. Those damned tears.
What’s with them any way? For years, I bemoaned the fact that I found it literally impossible to shed even one, but as of late, it’s all I can do to keep them in. And this time it wasn’t because of C, or dad, or my suckass job (OK fine, not “suckass” per say, but not at all where I really want to be). No, this time, it was because of the people that surrounded me. The good and gentle folk, patiently waiting for their flavor-sanitized food. Affecting smiles through their clown makeup. Attracting attention through their jangling jewelry and their cackle calls. Thoroughly enjoying themselves in a world that is only real if you ignore the fact that it is not. I felt bad for these people. I know, it’s stupid. Here they are, having a grand old time in their plastic kingdom, and here’s little sackcloth t, pitying them in their joy. But I suppose that’s just it – there was no “joy” present, just en-joy-ment. The air was full of whatever it is they normally pump into the Vegas resorts, that magical stuff that never allows you a sleepy nod. But joy? Joy was not in the air. Joy wasn’t even in the room.
“Wow t, thanks for coming back, only to totally harsh my mellow, dude!” No, wait – let me explain first. C.S. Lewis is my “go-to” guy when discussing joy, so we’ll be seeking his opinion momentarily. For me, joy is much more than the orgasm. For me, joy is knowing that the orgasm will come. OK, I suppose that Mr. Lewis would most likely never endorse an analogy like that, but he might have said something like this instead:
“In a sense, the central story of my life is about nothing else ….. it is that of an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction. I call it Joy, which is here a technical term and must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and from Pleasure. Joy (in my sense) has indeed one characteristic; and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again. Apart from that and considered only in its quality, it might almost equally be called unhappiness or grief. But then it is a kind we want. I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasures in the world. But then, joy is never in our power and pleasure often is.”
Or a bit more succinctly:
“The very nature of Joy makes nonsense of our common distinction between having and wanting.”
He might have said that. Had he ever written about it. In books possibly titled something like “Surprised By Joy” or “Letters To Malcolm.” And if he had, what I believe he would have meant is this – Joy comes in the anticipation. The wanting. The Longing. Much like the giddy hand-clapping that goes on while trying not to, but trying to, fall asleep on Christmas Eve, joy isn’t the present you’ll receive the next day, it’s the – well – the Joy you feel in the waiting for it. It’s almost better – scratch that, it is better – than the actual gift altogether. What I saw in Vegas were people who were not feeling joy. What I saw in Vegas were people who only kept telling themselves they were. The smiles never really lasted long enough. The nervous twitches never totally settled. The voices still rose, and tempers still flared while waiting in line. Or for a cab. Or waiting for food. Or for a drink. Or waiting for, well, you get it. There’s a shit-ton of waiting to be done in Vegas. And while they were waiting, the thin veneer of “joy” could be seen running down sweaty necks and off of twitching palms. They had drank the Kool-Aid, but it had no affect, so they simply pretended to be stoned instead.
And I felt bad for them.
It was at that unforeseen moment that the tears began to well, and I had all I could do to keep myself together. Not only did I feel bad that they were tricking themselves into their joy, I began feeling deep throbbing pangs of my own, wishing that I could be back with my Joy at that very moment. Back where I’m accepted, even without the clown makeup or the jangling jewelry. I longed so badly to be there. To be safe. And in that longing, my Joy increased. And my strength along with it. And I used these to muster the wherewithal to tighten the belt of my big boy pants, before soldiering on with the rest of my little trip. One that will go down in the history of the human race as an absolute and utter yawn.
Unless the videos surface, I suppose.
I’m back home now, away from the lights, the noise, the airborne stuff that never allows you to sleep. And I’m happy. Just before I sat down here, I was ironing my Korporate Amerika trousers, once again forming a new crease mere millimeters away from the intended one, all while dancing about pretending to be Peter Murphy. And as I did, I thought again about those poor people. And I wondered if they too were “back to life” by now. I wondered if they too were ironing and singing and screwing up their trousers in the process. And I wondered if they too were happy. More importantly, I wondered if they had finally found their Joy.
I hope that they are. And I hope that they did. For again, as C.S. Lewis might have said at some point in time that “Joy is the serious business of Heaven.” If so, we’d best get cracking.
You promise your friend that you’re really going to spend time this week digging into “who you are”, and then you go and post a total throw-away fluff piece about Ska music instead.
A most regrettable use of time and effort, don’t you think? i mean, what did that dribble actually tell you about You? What deep-seated secret did it uncover? What skeleton, buried in which closet, was revealed by your blurb?
None, i suppose.
But maybe that’s because i don’t have too many skeletons. Or maybe they’re simply skeletons of a different sort. You know, the average kind. For instance, maybe the post said more about me than about the music.
In my world – music is always playing – has been ever since i was a little child. My mom used to continually have the kitchen radio playing (i can still hear it, the announcer saying: “WJYE – Joy. All music, all the time”.). It played what we called “old people stuff”, and it really did play it all the time. Unless a vendor happened to interrupt to hawk their wares, of course. All day long, artists like Miller, Streisand, Mancini, Bennet and Sinatra (to mention a few…) could be heard belching out from the radio’s speakers. At the time, i thought it was because my mom had a love of music that the radio was always on, but recent developments cause me to question that belief.
Music also proved to be my very first Best Friend. Turns out, being shy is most decidedly NOT your best defense when getting picked on, and most often (like, in every single instance) instead of standing up for myself, i would run away instead. Run back home to mommy. Run back home to music.
They would both coax me, both tell me everything would be all right – each in their own way. As time progressed, i came to rely on music to not only soothe, but also guide. i became aware that those who played music were Cool… Especially the ones i was finding who didn’t play “old people stuff”. They had it all – the girls, the fame, the big house, the Life. The Life i wanted.
Turns out they also had talent. Well, most of them at any rate. And talent was the one thing i did NOT possess. Well, of a musical bent at any rate.
So life moved on. And my rock star dreams diminished over time, as i grew in strength and wisdom. But the music remained a big part of my life, and it still provides the audio landscape to my existence. It’s still my best friend too. Well, second to C.
Mom however, gave up on playing music when she reached a certain age, and while she still has the kitchen radio on all the time, now-a-days it only spurts out “talk radio” from it’s tiny and worn-down speakers.
When i hear it droning on, i can tell mom’s radio misses the “Joy” of days past. Lord knows i do…