Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

"Smile" by Ilya Kuvshinov

Take a moment. Look around. Think back. Consider it deeply. There's a question burning my soul tonight, one I'm not really sure I want the answer to.

Is anyone actually happy?

I mean, that's the promise, right? Grow up, get a good job, find a soul mate, and all the world will be hunky dory. Sunshine and rainbows. But the older and wiser I get, the more I think that's not the case. It's a lie, concocted by card companies, diamond dealers, and paranoid parents. They don't want us to know that this is all there is. They don't want us to dread grwoing up and moving along through this giant game of Life™ where nothing is as we were promised as children.

I look around at the people and faces surrounding me. Most are hustling and scurrying to their next destination, which they were late to before they ever woke up this morning. People's faces are in their phones, on Facebook, instantly snapping moments as they tumble by or kick off their days for no other reason than Instagram, Snapchat, tumblr, and Kik. All of this connectedness, the webs of this net crissing and crossing to decrease our degrees of separation from six to nil. And yet,





I am constantly surrounded by people, and I wear the smile that's expected of me. I make the platitudes and laugh, but inside I am broken and solitary. Even in the arms of my lover, when we are close in mind and heart and spirit, there is a distance that never seems to diminish. I can't turn off my wandering mind, and I can't let on that I'm feeling less than content.

And yet, if I ask around, if I'm brave enough to seek answers and others are brave enough to give them, I am not the only disjointed, d i s c o n n e c t e d , disturbed individual suffering this shrouded melancholy. Friends and loved ones, when properly prompted, will spill the beans: No, I'm not really happy. I just make sure it seems that way for my kids. Or, I can't remember the last time I was truly happy for more than a few minutes at a time; there's too much going on--kids, job, bills, practice, expectations... It's impossible.

And it sure seems that way. But I've become so used to just soldiering on, to stuffing the disappointment and sadness down, that I don't even realize I'm doing it any more. Just like everyone else.

What the hell is wrong with us? How did this happen? Why did we let ourselves get to this point? What's more, how can we fix it?

Or can we?


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