There is someone sitting dangerously close to my niche in my coffee shop. But I think that he's eating oatmeal, so I guess that it's legit.
Here's the deal in a nutshell: I keep coming back to this concept that happiness is a personal construct, not one which is inherent in each of us but must be fostered and developed. I'm struggling with this.
First. Prior to the last year or so, I've never questioned this concept. Of course I'm happy. Of course it's a natural feeling. It's not something that I have to work on.
In a variety of ways, I've felt schooled as of late that this is not true. I don't know. How can there be such varying degrees of understanding about this? It's just happiness.
In one of the classes that I teach, part of the grade derives from a series of open forum discussion points whereupon students respond to a concept with their own beliefs and justifications. A couple of weeks ago, the topic at hand (in response to a common reading) was "happiness." Truly, I felt let down by them not because the students failed at the writing but because there was no depth beyond the standard and the cliche. Repeatedly, I read "You have to create your own happiness." But how? But why? What part of living a fulfilled life means that you also have to figure out how to bank happiness, not unlike setting up and maintaining a 401K? As someone who has this sense of "happiness" as mercurial and organic, I'm struggling with committing to the Kool-Aid on this one and working at cultivating this feeling.
Second. Blips are becoming emotionally draining episodes. This semester, I've had 2 really positive, out-of-the-blue exchanges with a student and a former student. These are the moments that shore me up when I'm facing another round of grading late work (just about the worst for me). I've also had a few rounds in the proverbial boxing ring with 1 irate student (Creepy McCreeperson), which both came at me out of nowhere and escalated beyond rational logic. Out of this whole episode, I found out that my school has my back. And the boy, bless his loving heart, literally waited for me in the parking lot for 40 minutes with 2 crowbars in the car (if you know him, what do you think the odds are of Mr. Conscientious Objector from ever using them?) to make sure that I made it to my car okay. And, I want to give Campus Security a big old hug. Lovely people, all. So I've had some good vibes coming my way--support and appreciation. Those are strong, uplifting, sentiments. But Mr. Creepy and his vicious attacks drown that out. Do I have to consciously cling to the good and actively work to forget the unpleasant in order to create the happiness? That makes "happiness" seem like a lot of hard work and a set-up for failure.
Third. At what point do I try something new? There's a position here in town (a rare occurence) for which I am qualified and about which I am moderately interested. But it's here. Which would mean that we're not leaving. Which moving piece needs to be nailed down in order for the other parts to fall into place? I have no answer.
I blame this melancholy on another maddeningly cold & rainy Thursday morning. And #1's inexplicable banshee wailing and whining for about an hour this morning. Thanks for sticking with me. I'll try to come back mid-week with something light and fluffy like a snoring puppy.
In the meantime...snore on. (We have a blanket that looks like him.)