My posts have been scheduled for a while now. So although it looks like I’ve been busy at around 7pm (GMT) every day, I was actually busy on two days in early January while I wrote out a lot of ideas that bounced around my head. I have actually been in the real world ever since. I’ve not been in the real real world with jobs and stuff. But I’ve been mostly away from the digital world.
I saw a close friend in London, and I went to a job interview for a position I ultimately got. The position is a 5 week placement in Austria teaching English. I need to pack a bag and be on a train by Friday morning to attend an induction and then I fly on Sunday. Exciting stuff. I will buy a camera and keep my followers updated on that (but I very much doubt it will be like Thailand, where we were allowed to take pictures of our students; the Thais trust you not to be a paedophile. Or they just don’t care. I hope it’s the trust thing). I think I’m going to learn to ski while I’m out there.
But I was actually happier to see my friend than I was to get the job offer in Austria. I never realised how much I missed her! (She doesn’t read this, so that’s not soppy crap for her benefit. In fact I can now safely say that no one I know reads this, so I don’t have to list the friends I miss to make sure no one feels left out.) The last year of my life has been dominated by waves of depression intermingled with emotional numbness, so the past two weeks of my life have been great. I have been genuinely excited and sincerely happy.
My health is yet to fully return, but I feel a lot better than when I wrote Getting to Know an Old Friend (different friend). Being happy, and seeing my friend who was also very happy has lead me to reconsider the ideas I once had for a book.
“If you are perpetually angry and depressed and confused and unloving, it doesn’t matter how much success you have or who is in your life; you’re not going to enjoy any of it”
– Sam Harris
Back when I was not-so-happy I decided society is all wrong. It works, but every element of it is sad. Hospitals function, but doctors abuse prescription drugs; trains run, but drivers throw themselves under them. The system works, but the people aren’t happy. My reasoning for this was that everything is thankless, and we work very hard in these thankless things. We never really reap the rewards of our efforts, and the false-promise of happiness (money in most cases, affection from my girlfriend in many of my personal endeavours) is dangled in front of us and we peddle ever-harder to not get it.
We do that extra hour of over time thinking the money will make us happy, but nothing about getting home at 7.30pm in the cold and the dark in exchange for £10 actually makes us happy. We take on the extra project, thinking working harder must get us to our goal quicker. We don’t realise we’re not working towards our goal; we are working to the company’s goal. And the promise of money is not the promise of happiness.
I also live in a zombie culture. My friends talk about zombie apocalypses and how they’d prepare and how excited it would make them. And I thought about why it would excite them. There would be immediacy to our tasks: hunting and shelter. There would be no disconnect between and no illusion about our actions and our goals. We won’t be misled into thinking writing a Strategic Management Plan will lead to happiness somewhere along the line (admit it, you’ve thought it would be better for you to write one of these at some point in your life. Were you right?)
We could simply deal with the five Fs: flight, fight, food, friends and mating (but I don’t mean mating, I mean the one that starts with F because that sounds like more fun). When all the tasks are done all the tasks are actually done. Having tasks with immediate and personal results emphasises our sense of a purpose.
And that is the book I was going to start writing: a book about people who are miserable in their lives working towards the goals of faceless corporations. And then they are given a purpose by a complete collapse of the emotional vacuum that is capitalist-run society.
But more recently I’ve realised that it is important to include characters who are happy alongside capitalism; characters who have remembered that happiness is in the face of their friends, and in intimacy, and in personal achievement, and in fun; characters who know that it doesn’t matter how much someone else has invest in this ride, it is just a ride and happiness is immediate.
Happiness, as I’ve said before, is a choice.