Happy Endings

Lately, I've been thinking about it.  And maybe coming to terms about it, too.  It doesn't really matter how long you live.  What matters is how well you've lived your life.  If there are fewer wasted moments, no matter how short your life turns out to be, I guess it wouldn't be such a bad thing.  There's something tragically beautiful about that.  And maybe it's enough.

What to say of a life that had gone on infinitely long, but otherwise empty and unfulfilled?  Spent with a lot of regrets and the coulda woulda shouldas.

It's been first and foremost in my mind.  Maybe because the line from the play Rent kept spinning in my head: no day but today.  Or maybe because last Monday was the 4th death anniversary of my brother.  He died in an accident; he was 16.  And maybe of other things and many things that have happened since the year started.

I'm here, thinking, weighing things, sometimes bogged down by thoughts and turn of events, and I've always thought about that, that elusive thing called happiness.  It seems so hard to achieve, as if some Holy Grail that's always beyond my grasp.  There's always a compromise of things and most of the time the things you have wished for, hoped for don't really happen the way you had envisioned them to be. There's always a catch or a caveat.  A fine print I usually miss in my dogged pursuit of happiness.

And sometimes in that pursuit, I've mistaken happiness to its poorer, shadowy sibling that is pleasure.  Doesn't it seem that way, how we seem to drive right through happiness and straight to pleasure?  Because as much as we want to be happy, we're scared of it or we never allow ourselves to be in it.  We'd rather have pleasure, which is something more definite and easier to have.  We know pleasure all too well.  Its orgasmic climaxes and the inevitable denouement.  And then an end.  And then off to another pursuit.

Maybe there is meaning in its meaninglessness.  Some happiness can be derived from it. And perhaps we can settle for that.  Because it is familiar.  We know the patterns very much already.  How pleasure can sometimes be followed by a pang of guilt or pain.  But we've lived through it; we've survived through it.  A familiar cycle of feelings, a roller-coaster of emotions can only affect the heart so much.  It can soon achieve a state of numbness and indifference.

But what of this?  What of all this madness?  We live as if we're gonna live forever.  So we don't mind the familiar patterns, we don't mind the sick cycle, because we feel like we're not going to die soon.  There will be plenty of time for real life to happen.  Tomorrow is another day, as the heroine of the epic novel Gone with the Wind had said in the last line of the book.

True, there's always tomorrow.  The world turns to another day whether we like it or not.  Whether we're in it or not.

It makes me wonder, in our final minutes, what would make us be at peace with our life and death?  Did Nature Boy sang it true that the greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return?  Or is it something else?  Different for each one of us.  Or is love really the universally acclaimed barometer of a life well lived?


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