I’d been on the hunt for Purpose and Fulfillment for years. I felt inklings of it here and there. But it never lasted. Satisfaction was a fleeting moment. Purpose darted off as soon as it had arrived.
I wondered if others were also Searching. They must be? Although I’ve known plenty of people who were content. C-o-n-t-e-n-t. What was it like to be content? It implied something more than happiness. It applied a feeling of being settled into your life. That you look around the landscape of your existence and think, “Yes, that’ll do just fine.”
In a rage, my mother once screamed at me, “Happy?? You’ll never be happy! Nothing will ever make you happy!”
It felt as though she had punched right through my chest and yanked out my worst fear-and then smacked me in the face with it. I was a teenager. I wanted to agree with her. Maybe she was right. I was young, underdeveloped. What did I know? I thought Somewhere, Something would make me happy. Surely that’s how life worked? But in that moment I thought, oh, I’m that person. The one who will never be happy.
I will never be satisfied. Nothing will ever make me happy. She was right. I am broken. I’ve fought for so many years, not because I had something to fight for…but because I was confused. I thought I was fighting for my One Day Happiness. But it didn’t exist.
Her words rang through my head for years. They became more and more true. In fact, I could feel some inherent, obvious, unrelenting Truth in them that I couldn’t shake. There was grace in those unholy words. A truth that would save me from living a false life:
Nothing ever makes you happy. The happiness you feel is self conceived. Once you stop bringing the happy to a situation in your life, it becomes pale and dark. If you are unwilling to bring the light into your relationships, into your day to day life – the light will surely fade.
At first, this terrified me. It couldn’t be so. It must still be Out There. The happiness. Those things that bring comfort and joy. They’ll come into my life and bring the light I am looking for.
And without fail, the things and people would come and go. The happiness would never last. Something was wrong. I looked around at others. They seem Happy. They have a person and a house and Things and they are happy. Surely if I have those things too, I will be happy. But why was this so wrong? What was I missing?
There are certain Truths you cannot glance over. Because a part of you always tugs on your sleeve like an impatient child. Nagging you. Hurling the truth at your face like a mother’s angry words.
You stand in the middle of the Happy Things all around you, and you are miserable. You think, “Life is cruel.” “What’s wrong with me? How am I not grateful? I will MAKE myself happy. I will MAKE myself grateful.”
You were never meant to live an illusion and make yourself believe that it was real. Somehow, maybe, we think this is how it works. But that’s a lie. You were meant to feel fulfilled, purposeful, loved, and excited about your life. Somehow, maybe, we stopped believing that was true.
It’s easier to believe that life is suffering, life is hard. You drink to soften its edges, you lose yourself in your mind to siphon joy from the depths of your imagination. Or maybe you’ve simply lowered your standards for happiness and you feel…pretty much fine.
But I couldn’t do any of those things for long. My mother was right.
NO-THING WOULD EVER MAKE ME HAPPY.
What Holy words those were. They led me on a path of deliverance. A path of understanding. I let go of All Things. If happiness wasn’t in Things, I could find it where it was.
And I did.