ON BEING HAPPY: A DIFFERENT ROAD

If you ask people what they want out of life, most will say something like, “I just want to be happy” or, “I want to love my life.”

We want to be happy. We all do. We struggle to find satisfaction in relationships, in our careers, in material things. We spend time reading about how to be more happy, how to be fulfilled.

We see others around us seemingly having it all, and we want to be like them. We feel less worthy if we are struggling with sadness, or if we hit a rough patch and are lacking zeal or passion. Everything around us shouts, GET HAPPINESS.

When the truth is, we–earthly beings– are fading. Every day.

And our earthly life–our bodies, our relationships, our careers, our material things– withers.

This poem -written by Mary Oliver- is a commentary, in just a few words, on our insatiable need for happiness, and why, there may just be a different road.

For years I struggled

just to love my life.

And then

The butterfly

rose, weightless, in the wind.

“Don’t love your life too much”, it said

and vanished

into the world.

-Mary Oliver from New and Selected Poems

Makes me think of an unforgettable saying of Jesus from the gospel of John when he said, “whoever loves his life will lose it”.

Seems to blatantly contradict our pop culture’s obsession with self- satisfaction: Seek to love your life, vs If you love your life, you’re gonna lose it.

The whole thing is a bit mysterious. There is a deeper conversation we might have about theology, death and life, and purpose and destiny. And happiness. And how that fits in or not.

Here’s what I do know: there is something about holding just a little more loosely to my entitlement to happiness.

I also know that I am fading.

And on this one, I’m going to trust Jesus, Mary, and the butterfly.