Challenging Happiness

Here, at the end of Pre Departure Training, I feel saturated with knowledge. Any fellow can tell you that this past week we've been repeatedly exposed to risk takers, leaders, mistake makers; speech after speech of rich information from innovators who have valuable advice. Additionally, fellows were quick to impart knowledge upon eachother, give tips and kind words to those who were feeling apprehensive or homesick. Being the observer I am, I rarely spoke up, and when another fellow told me that what I had just said made him challenge his core values, I was shocked to find that rather than being the never ending sponge and painfully retaining my liquid knowledge, I had wrung myself out, just a little bit, and passed some on. This blog post is partially for that fellow. It is also to disperse myself, leave a little bit behind here in the United States, unload just enough to make more room for what I will learn in Brazil. Here is my response to the prompt "I Believe"…

Through the limited amount of heart breaking experiences I've had during my time on our earth, I've come to develop a value I hold close to my heart that I don't often hear of others having. In the culture that raised me, everyone is striving for a good feeling. Whether that feeling comes from our food choices, or through the things we buy with money we saved, or even just being kind to a stranger, I don't believe I'm wrong in saying that one of the most ultimate goals of human kind is to be, simply put, happy. To me, that is respectable. Happiness is desired for a reason, and certainly there are worse goals to be chosen. John Lennon quotes, "When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down, "happy." They told me I didn't understand the assignment, I told them they didn't understand life."

           The thing about this quote is that, it's beautiful. It resonates with everyone on some level and in that way connects us in happiness. There was a time once when I believed that happiness was the purpose of life. However, in these past few years, I've gone through the toughest moments of my life, the kind where it doesn't seem that happiness will ever be an option again. I'm sure you all understand what this feels like. And I guess, through all the intense regret, and confusion, painfully deep sorrow and hatred, anger that blinded me, I was able to focus on one thing. That thing wasn't the absence of happiness, it wasn't the depression that consumed my personality. It was, with a shock to me, that I had never felt more alive. I had never felt more human, to be capable of all these contradicting emotions. To me, the absolute awareness of my living state was endlessly more valuable than all the times I've been happy. I understand that happiness pays a role in giving contrast to these feelings, which is why I'm not going to fruitlessly try to ignore my human tendency to strive for contentedness. I will, however, never shy away from exposing myself to the rawness of sorrow. I don't want to imply that anyone should take on an emotional masochism, but I want to suggest living intensely, if even only for a moment.