At some point in my early twenties, I figured out the answer to the question of happiness, but I can’t tell you the exact moment it came to me.
Perhaps, it was while I was running in the airport terminal with coffee stains all over my colourless clothes, and then pausing midway to embrace the sun outside. Maybe, it was on a table filled with what I was searching for, as people I held dear called me names and made jokes, the beer and the laughter spilling in perfect coordination.
I’d like to think it was a moment of epiphany like that, but I couldn’t be too sure. I don’t remember it. The secret to happiness was in the lie of warmth.
Happiness was a fleeting feeling, and it left faster than it arrived, and then when you least expected it, it arrived again. I had observed this happen over and over and over until one day, I realised, it was a tug-of-war between the lie that’s in your head and the lie you can tell yourself. To keep the feeling intact, you had to learn the lie of warmth.
Often that meant coaxing yourself to sit in the sun for hours, a cup of coffee in front of you, and then continuing to sit there until the only thing you can feel is the warmth on your face, and the yellow in your eyes, and the coffee on your tongue, and nothing else at all. If you could manage that, you’d realise that warmth wasn’t about you. That was the lie of warmth. To feel it, you needed to not make it about you for a change.
You’d start to feel it around you, in that unclear mumble of the ambient noise, in the people, in the dogs on the street, in the tiny hello to strangers, in the laughter surrounding you, in that perfect song that just happened to play, in the man who grooved to it thinking no one saw it, in the group of friends giggling on some inside joke; it was in everything but yourself.
So, stop at the sunset, buster, and take that sun in before it fades away. Happiness was in the attempt to not make it about you, and suddenly, the feeling didn’t feel as fleeting as you once thought.