Here’s one thing that helps me.
Like most teenagers at the time, I pulled John Marsden’s The Tomorrow Series off the school library shelves and quickly fell into its pages. For those not in the know, Marsden’s books follow a group of plucky youths from an Australian country town and how they handle and eventually fight back when war breaks out on their shore.
But it was the closing lines of the final book that stayed with me long after the book was returned, and which I still think about sometimes.
“Life’s about a hell of a lot more than being happy. It’s about feeling the full range of stuff: happiness, sadness, anger, grief, love, hate. If you try to shut one of those off, you shut them all off. I don’t want to be happy. I know I won’t live happily ever after. I want more than that, something richer. I want to go right up close to the beauty and the ugliness. I want to see it all, know it all, understand it all. The richness and the poverty, the joy and the cruelty, the sweetness and the sadness. … I want to experience everything it has to offer.”
This was the first time in my young life that I had heard the idea that life isn’t just about happiness. And it made me think, and I’m still thinking now.
And so whenever life starts getting hard, I think of this idea and remind myself that it’s all part of the experience.
If it isn’t a happy thing, it may just be an important thing. Sometimes we need to be woken up from our comfort zone and take a look at the view from the heights we’ve climbed. And if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. (Or something like that.)
Let’s find happiness, when and where we can. And when we can’t, that’s ok too. Because we should see it all, know it all, understand it all.
I want to experience all of it.