“Are you Happy ?” My father asked by e-mail that night. It's been already 2 years without seeing my parents, 2 years since I left France. I thought of answering: yes Daddy, everything is fine. Eventually, finding the answer easy and expected, and above all, wanting to avoid infertile exchanges of trivial banalities, I really answered his question. It was not easy, it's a long thinking process.
February 27, 2018, Pucon, 🇨🇱 Chile, South America.
To begin with, the question is anxiety-provoking precisely because there is no general definition of happiness and therefore no marked path to reach it. It's like a treasure hunt without a map and no proves it even exist.
One day, while I was having breakfast, I observed the hen of the house, where once I rented a room, pecking at my feet. Suddenly, I saw a striking parallel between this volatile and humanity. Then, it seemed clear to me that we were all chickens in a farm, run by roosters themselves run by farmers. The farm's rules are simple, the chick must go to school, learn how to lay eggs or learn how to supervise laying hens, buy a nest, find a rooster or a hen and have chicks to whom he will hand the same life plan.
Every trees are free to not grow straight. Yet, to all of them a stake is assigned
It is sometimes difficult to realise that the discomfort one feels, or the inability to feel really happy, comes from the life schema that does not fit. Lots of hens and roosters live lives full of doubts and illusions of happiness that are called joys.
Happiness is a permanent situation, a state of mind. The small and temporary joys of buying a nest, having the new iPhone, or having a new dress are just decoys. A short period of joy is felt before returning to the starting point, failing to become fulfilled. Again, one will buy the new iPhone or a new dress. Holidays follow the same logic. When it's over, the joy evaporates and one returns, nostalgic, to the everyday life, commonly referred to as: obligations. The daily life's obligations are inculcated from birth, rarely questioned, they stand as a watertight basis, even when suffered.
Some chickens who read more and type less on their smartphones, who are asking more questions than they foolishly believe, realise that this life pattern is not the right one for them. For others, it is perfect. There are chickens who follow the rules because it provides them with comfort and others who create new ones out of boredom.
In their quest for happiness, some chickens one day go through the farm's gate to discover the large fields of possibilities and new patterns to draw.
Throbbing wings, the hen steals a piece of bread from my plate and moves away at full speed in an incredibly unsightly race. She wipes her beak on a rock and resumes her random walk. She goes around in the garden, quiet and stupid.
Today, as often, the gate is open. Every-time I expect this awkward bird to fly out, wings in the air, cackling with pleasure, but she never does anything of that. She is satisfied with her fate, she doesn't feel the curiosity to inspect outside, perhaps she doesn't even know she is not free, since she was born in her prison.
Today, as sometimes, my hen approaches the exit, she raises her beak in the air and peeks behind the portal. In a daring mood, she takes a further 3 steps forward and her pair of paws eventually make it on the pavement of the residential side of Bondi, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, Oceania, Earth... Her red crest flickers like jelly on the summit of her skull at each of her abrupt postures of observation. An eye on the sky, an eye on the tar, a car passes, she stops. What is she possibly thinking of? What does she understand about all this? Surely as much as we understand while watching Neil Armstrong on the moon. My little white feathered cosmonaut eventually heads back to the garden.
The trees ignoring their stake are being pointed at. This one is a weirdo… comment on the very straight birches, in contempt, staring at the twisted beech. These trees only twist to reach out the light from the darkness the forest has stuck them in.
Finding happiness, or a situation of permanent joy is an art, because one have to reinvent everything and emancipate oneself from other chickens' gaze. In the henhouse, they often flies in misunderstanding from not witnessing the return of the adventurous chick who should try and become a chief executive chicken. Why would anyone not wanting to become one? They wonder.
My hen turned back because cars and tarmac didn't tickled her curiosity. It was not for her, there was no sand to roll in and the worms did not crawl on the tar. Her perception of the outside is then set and personal, experienced from her point of view, supported by her reason itself based on her personal history. I have a totally different vision from the outside, I understood it with my eyes and the baggage of my personal experiences. When I go out every day, my hen must think I'm crazy. When the portal opens and she stays, I think she is the crazy one. Certainly, unless being trained to, we can't understand each other. We can't meet up on a common wavelength. There is no word to convey a different level of consciousness. I live outside with a backpack, there is very little chance that I can actually communicate with the CEO of LVMH, as an example. The levels of consciousness about life and our choices in order to make the best of it, are so divergent that it is almost like evolving on a different astral plane.
Even when one realises that life happens to be better wearing underpants in the forest rather than suit on in the subway, it is difficult to embrace the needs and assume the desires.
Social recognition , it is in 4th positions on the Maslow's pyramid. It's perverse, because it sometimes makes people do things they don't basically want to do, just because they need a clap on the back from their bosses, or because they don't want they neighbours to be judging them.
It is true that I do not shine in society when I show up with muddy shoes and messy hair, announcing that I have just spent the last week sleeping in my car. Even if I keep for myself that I choose this morning one of my least dirty panties to turn it inside out, still, I sometimes feel contempt from a certain category of people I learned to avoid. Each one on his astral plane, and the dignities will be well kept.
The absurd functioning of the society stultify the citizens. Over time, the meaning of life got lost. Possessing has become more important than being , one amasses items way beyond the needs, ending up possessed by properties. Money is earned for the sake of earning money, without really knowing what are the hours of life traded for and without truly realising they are counted down.
I've always loved economics courses, because they retrace the evolution of humanity, from simple and sensible to foolishness and perversion, leading to a world where a piece of paper with a fictional value matters more than respect, love, the life of others, and even the planet.
Back in the time, at university, my economics teacher had 2 protagonists of choice as a support for her course, Robinson Crusoe and Friday. Robinson is on his island, struggling to stay alive. Fortunately, with his friend, Friday, they start planting potatoes. They become farmers, the only sensible job, since everyone agrees, for those who remember, we are supposed to work to feed out. Following an overdose of potatoes, they start paying attention around them and spot the neighbour's zucchinis on the next island. Barter was born. So far, everything made sense, it was all about exchanging goods and skills. Then, in order to ease the exchanges, money was created. It was then made of precious metals and actually was worth something. Nowadays, we exchange slips of paper and numbers over the internet, a smartphone is more important than a full fridge, and we couldn't recognise neither tubercles nor cucurbits anymore, if by accident we happened to find ourselves in nature.
Isn't happiness all about sense? Hoarding unnecessary bullshit, having more money than one can spend and feeding one's soul with other people's gaze does not make any sense. Earning money for the sake of it could make sense only for Scrooge Mcduck who can swim in it.
According to me, when happiness is failed to reach, it's because the sense of life got lost.
Without having to start a life in autarky with a pair of chicken and a vegetable garden, one could reconnect with life by making sure to know the answers to those questions : Why am I working for? What do I want to spend my money on? What am I doing with my life ? What are my goals? It would be wise to relearn the art of asking oneself questions, finding answers and eventually fix what's wrong.
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. — Albert Einstein
Time is worth more than the strongest currency. Money is lost and won. One day, one is poor, the next day one gets rich. When time is wasted, one won't be able to negotiate it back with St Peter, on the purgatory's benches.
I Sometimes freeze at the sight of the hourglass counting down my hours, I don't know what to do with this incredible gift that life is, provided without an instruction manual.
I sometimes thrive in the oceans, floating cheerfully , grateful to be alive.
I Sometimes end up washed up on the shore, and staring at the stars, I realise that I am just as insignificant as the grains of sand I'm lying on.
There is either purpose nor answers, there is only an accident that gave us birth. Sometimes it's a comforting thought, because then my mistakes and problems become insignificant.
Somewhere in between too many questions and not enough, is the right amount.
I wish I had a bag filled up with just enough questions to build up the Ikea shelf of happiness without ending up with a handful of remaining pieces that prevents me from feeling any accomplishment or logic.
The hen is laying on the sand, next to my feet. I reach out for her feathers, she runs away stupidly. She doesn't recognise me and flees by instinct of danger, even though no past event indicates her that I am to be assimilated with any threat. I watch her going away, waddling stupidly. One does not become a happy idiot, like my hen, it is from birth, and by never going through the gate, one can remain so. The chicken that I have in front of me is not questioning anything, she doesn't care about the outside, the garden is enough for her.
Therefore, I might not be more intelligent than this metaphorical chicken, but only more complex and tortured, because unlike her, I have not been able to solve the equation of happiness, yet, with the same datas.
I'm stuck with answerless questions , why the hell did they came across my mind ? My hen has turned back, she saw the sidewalk, she saw the street and returned to her sand, her bowl of water and the wholemeal bread she always steals from the kitchen and stuff her stomach with happiness. I think she doesn't care where the bread comes from, and if she ever wondered, she probably chose to think of me as a deity, the goddess of wholemeal bread. As far as I am concerned, when the portal opened, I ran out, since then, I have been walking in the neighbourhood, seeking to give meaning to nothingness.
How are we supposed to give sense to our lives, when life itself has none ?
Human being is an incredible plague for the environment, it adds a lot to my misunderstanding of life. Since I can't foolishly enjoy life enough, maybe I should board an ocean protection vessel and kick some Japanese asses, I should land in Africa and fight against famine, I should enlist at WWF and protect the animals, victims of our presence. But, I'm always caught up in this stifling feeling that I'm not going to change anything, that I'm just going to waste precious minutes of life I'm so afraid of wasting by trying to dry out the floor from a place it never stop raining. People with this same state of mind participate with a big stone in erecting the temple of human mediocrity.
I am paralysed, yet in perpetual motion around the world.
My trips around the world took the blindfold off my eyes, and gave many answers to my load of questions, but gave birth to so many others.
Life is a book, those who never travel read only one page.
I think I've never been happier than completely broke with three dirty t-shirts evolving in the desert, sleeping on an air mattress that let the sharped Australian ground printed on my tailbone. One morning, buttocks still numbed, I decided to analyse precisely the essential components of the absolute well-being I temporary felt, in order to write down my recipe for happiness and be able to cook it every day for myself as well as for others.
In short, yes dad, almost there, I'm ok. Tell mum I send her kisses.