A Non-American Happiness



On some days I feel as though there is nothing to give my life form - no grand motivation, no clear trajectory. No clear desire even. I feel like there's so much to be done, and it's all urgent, and whatever I am doing doesn't feel meaningful enough. In those moments - rather perennial lately - I am so aware that I'm not happy. I'm not unhappy, but I don't have a lasting sense of happiness. It's a strange feeling.

I’ve had remarkable experiences over the last six months that have ushered me into new understandings of myself. Some of which are frightening, other just sort of like polished knowledge, like something I knew passively and only just more aware; knowing their technicalities. With all of these, I have been made even more aware of myself and my desires, and as such feel the need to amplify both often by introspection.

However, there are times when I don’t desire introspection, when I wish more than anything, to exist in a haze, a place of no secondary understanding either of myself or whatever is going on around me. Neither cheerful or somber. A makeshift okayness. I generally shy from thinking if I am happy or not anyway, because to examine if or not you are happy, is to make yourself available to the many possibilities of your unhappiness. I don’t know how to search for it as a feeling, primarily because it’s so American, because it’s a proxy for many things, more available as language I suppose. So even when someone says they are not "happy", they might be grasping for contentment, satisfaction. But they are still using the language of happiness.

Sometimes the non-American happiness is a small thing. Sometimes I feel as though I’m a frog attempting to cross a highway full of trucks. My negotiation is to live in the moments that feel complete; moments that are fair to me and my place in this world. I think more, am I content, what do I need? Because of how romanticized happiness is, I fear that it is burdened. But I cherish the feeling of contentment a lot. Contentment both in feeling and its declaration is easier to carry about. There is still space to go, too. When I say that I am content, I believe there could be more to come my way, for which I might be glad or sad. But to say that I am happy is to declare an absolute, to have reached someplace to which the only available option is a downward spiral. Perhaps I will never know how to search for happiness as a feeling because it is only truly visible in hindsight.



Keside Anosike