Perhaps, it was a global crisis. Perhaps, it was the age. Maybe, it was both or maybe, it was how things had always been. I reckon that was it. Things had always been that way. The more I talked to those around me, the more I started finding stories that ended with a sigh, as they looked at whatever drink was in their hands and uttered a phrase odd understanding. “It is what it is,” they’d tell me.
Their biggest dreams—of extravagant careers, of ballad-worthy love stories, of grandiose adventure—left their eyes as they’d continue staring at nothing momentarily. Then, they’d look up and smile, their eyes weary and tired. I’d return the smile, of course. An inexplicable clarity was in the air all around me. All of us knew what was happening to all of us at all times. It was an acceptance that wasn’t forced but felt reluctant, still.
Perhaps, this was how it happened. Perhaps, this is how the unfazed adults present throughout history were made. Not by spontaneous heartbreak but through a sort of continual failure, a continual mismatch between how they imagined life to be and how it turned out. Life was but a slow burn. But there was hope somewhere in the air, too. Behind those smiles and those words of walking away from battles we were too tired to fight, each of us found an ounce of happiness in one way or the other. At least, we were learning.
It makes me wonder if this was the secret to happiness all along—the acceptance. Yet, unless you dreamt and unless you failed, you couldn’t know what the others meant. You could recite a rote maxim, a platitude, but it would all be absolute bullshit. You’d know it in your heart, too, of course. It wasn’t in accomplishing dreams that we found happiness; it was in the failures; it was in making do without.
Happiness was what came after the reluctant acceptance. I wonder if it was when we said to ourselves, “it’s not at all how I had imagined, but perhaps, this is not so bad after all; it is what it is.”
Maybe, it was in that precise moment that one was happy. Maybe, one had to reach it of their own accord. Perhaps, a generation reached it together, roughly speaking.
Maybe, we had.