Today’s daily prompt challenged me to think harder about myself and others:
Are you a good judge of other people’s happiness? Tell us about a time you were spot on despite external hints to the contrary (or, alternatively, about a time you were dead wrong).
Aristotle, one of the greatest thinkers of western philosophy, taught us that happiness is a virtue, not its reward. This means that happiness is a gift that is not to be taken for granted. It is the ultimate purpose of our existence. It does not come and vanish in a mere couple of hours. Happiness depends on ourselves. We choose to be happy. Aristotle gave a true definition of happiness:
…the function of man is to live a certain kind of life, and this activity implies a rational principle, and the function of a good man is the good and noble performance of these, and if any action is well performed it is performed in accord with the appropriate excellence: if this is the case, then happiness turns out to be an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue. (Nicomachean Ethics, 1098a13)
Am I a good judge of other people’s happiness? That depends. I don’t know if I’m truly happy myself. My self-absorption clouds my judgment, I can’t look past my inner demons to realize others are facing predicaments that question the nature of their existence. This is tough. I am more inclined in seeing the sadness in people. Since I am a loner and often have depressive states, seeing people on a level of my own makes me feel better because I know they have something in common with me: this insurmountable wall that I cannot seem to get over. But I feel safer on the other side anyway because I don’t have to face my struggles with human interaction and emotion. Stepping out into the light bothers me. I feel better being isolated and not having to win the acceptance of someone else because when I fail at that I often become even more depressed.
I close my eyes for a while, trying to think of a time when I knew someone was happy. For some reason, my late grandmother comes to mind. I am standing by her bedside, seeing her lying there, pale and cold as ever, holding on to her last few breaths of life. She has lost all focus of the world and her words and actions are not entirely hers, coming about from the Alzheimer’s that has progressed ruthlessly. I can tell she is happy and content inside, even if it isn’t readily apparent, because very soon she will be going to a better place, away from the agony and suffering that has been cast upon her. This is not like her. She has always been a strong woman, always alert and on her feet. I hate to see her struggle like this, acting like a totally different person and scaring me. I can tell she doesn’t want to go through with this sickness any longer, wants to rest in peace, be in a state of happiness. A deep depression washes over me. My mind is numb as ice. I can’t quite decipher any emotions for this experience. I guess I just realize dying is the natural part of life and learn to get over it. Grieving is painful. I don’t know how to deal with it. I’m trapped in my mind. Nothing can get out. It is a dark void. There is no where to go but straight. Behind me is just the shadows of despair. The road is foggy up ahead. I am so young, unable to take the burden of this loss.
I’m tired. I can’t go on any longer.