☞ Global Frowning Sweeps… Globe?
“I drank what?”
- Socrates, 399 BC.
I’ve always said that there’s a finite amount of happiness in the world. That is to say, there’s only so much happiness to go around, and if one person becomes happy, another is becoming sad somewhere else. It’s a balance. A yin and a yang, if you will.
Anyway, I’ve always said this, but I’ve also thought it was bullshit.
Here’s the thing, though, I’m slowly coming around to my own bullshit. Well, sorta. I’m revising the theory a little and I’m spinning it further into the abyss. I’ve always been a “glass is half empty and the part that isn’t empty is full of deadly poison” kind of guy, after all.
The revised theory states that not only is there a finite amount of happiness, it’s been a fixed quantity since the beginning, and has been becoming diluted more and more as humanity has proliferated.
You see, in the beginning there was universal happiness. Everything was hunky-dory. Then came the first child. Then the kid started crying because it was hungry. The first bit of unhappiness. The kid was fed, and became happy but then the dad was a little sad. “Shit, is it going to do that every time it gets hungry? That’s going to get old fast.”
Now I can’t prove this any more than I can prove global warming, so therefore I’m declaring this just as plausible as global warming. So if you believe in global warming, then you believe in the Pat Rafferty Theory of Happiness… better known as “global frowning.”
Likewise, if you don’t believe in global warming, then you’re probably a cranky old curmudgeon, since all the young kids are worried about the ozone layer and all of that other ballyhoo. Ergo, you’re grumpy, and therefore also a contributing factor towards global frowning.
And hey, who knows, maybe global warming and global frowning are linked. Maybe all the chloroflorines in the atmosphere are making us sad. Maybe all of our sadness is making us eat our feelings, and our feelings are hamburgers, and all the cows that make those hamburgers are farting a lot and contributing to global frowning. Err, global warming. Whatever. Stupid humans.
“I just want something I can never have.”
- Trent Reznor, sometime in the 1990s, probably.
Humans are drawn to things just out of our reach. It’s in our nature. This starts right after birth, and continues pretty much until we’re dead.
When we’re babies, we’re always grabbing for stuff we want. Stuffed animals, building blocks, mommy’s boobies, et cetera. Then we grow up, we start going for slightly larger things. Cars, houses, bigger boobies. Eventually we start wanting things by proxy, things that aren’t even for us. Better schools for our kids, healthcare or our employees, money for our shareholders. Some of us wind up holding political office, and want things for our nation. Higher standards of living, natural resources, and sure, occasionally boobies. (Rafferty in 2016: Boobies For Everyone!)
At the heart of all this is the idea that we want things we don’t have. And in many cases, things we shouldn’t have. Things just out of our reach. The best things of all are of course things we can never have. I really want the to own the moon, but chances are that’s not going to happen… pretty sure China has already called dibs.
The problem is it’s hard to be happy. More often than not, when you finally get what you want, you don’t even want it anymore. Or perhaps more likely, once you do get what you want, you want something better. At some point virtually everyone has said “if I just had a few hundred/thousand(/million?) more dollars, I’d be in good shape.”
The kicker is the moment you got that money, you’d want more. Everybody just wants to do a little better. You can always do better. And you think you’ll be happy once you do, and maybe you will… for a little while. But then you’ll want more. Stupid humans.
“A bear is just a man who made a choice.”
- Kris Straub, 2009
A few years back I made a decision in my life to make two people happy (myself and someone else) at the expensive of another person’s happiness. (Spoiler: relationships are complicated.) This was a pretty selfish move on my part, but it seemed like the right move at the time. I like being happy. Who doesn’t. Big fan.
Hindsight is a television news show on ABC though, and as it turns out, that decision was a pretty dick move on my part, and basically the worst thing I’ve ever done in my life. Which is saying something… I’ve done some pretty lousy stuff over the years. (Sorry for endorsing Superman Returns everyone, it seemed pretty decent at the time.)
Time heals all (non-mortal) wounds, though, and now all parties involved are happier (albeit no longer really very close with one and other). But hey, it only took the better part of a decade for everything to be hunky-dory!
Do I regret what I did? Of course. If I could go back in time and undo it, would I? No, if I could go back in time I would kill Hitler, come on here. Dealing with my petty shit would be selfish. I’m done being selfish. Sorry Hitler, thems the breaks. Nothing personal. (Actually, no, pretty personal.) (Sorry.) (Not sorry.)
Anyway, here we are, seven years later, and everyone is happy. Right? Well, happy-ish, anyway.
Point is, sometimes you need to do the wrong thing before you can do the right thing. You need to be sad before you’re happy, and sometimes you need to get the thing you think you want before you realize you don’t want it.
Unfortunately, the only way to figure all this out is to make some pretty dumb mistakes along the way. Stupid humans.