How to be happy in a sad, sad world

You know what?

What?

I’m really happy.

What?

You know. Don’t you sometimes think that you should just come out and say it? I mean, we don’t give ourselves the chance do we? Just to say it. I am happy.

Bully for you.

What – you don’t think you’re happy too?

Happy? Huh. No I do not.

I’m sorry, I had no idea. Is it something I can help with?

What? No.

Well, what is it though?

It isn’t anything.

Oh come on. You can tell me.

No, I mean, it really isn’t anything. In particular.

But…?

What do you mean, but?

If it isn’t anything in particular, it must be something – vague?

Oh I don’t know! I just don’t swan around in a permanent state of ecstasy like you seem to.

This is the first time I’ve ever mentioned it!

Oh, you’re always bringing up how bloody happy you are!

Am I?

Well, sorry to bring it up, but you know, you started it.

I didn’t know I was irritating you so much.

Oh God, it’s been going on so long I’ve got used to it.

Clearly not as much as you thought.

Look, don’t worry about it. You’re a really nice guy, I like you a lot, but it’s just sometimes, sometimes, you know, you’re a bit…

What?

Well, I don’t know, a bit…

What?

Just – relentless.

Relentless?

Oh God, just permanently up and happy. Don’t you ever get fed up?

Well, funny you should ask. Just at this precise moment…

You know. In general.

About what? I’ve got a good job, a lovely wife, nice kids, a roof over my head.

But the world’s going to shit!

Is it?

Don’t you ever read the papers?

The papers? What do they know about the world?

They have reporters. That’s mainly the point.

I know. What do they report on?

All the shit that’s going down.

Exactly.

Oh, not this again.

Show me a reporter who reports on good stuff.

No one wants to read about good stuff. That’s why they go looking for the bad stuff.

You’re making my point for me.

Yes, but – bad stuff matters. If bad stuff happens, we’re all fucked.

Well – not all bad stuff is bad for everyone. I mean when ISIS blow a bus up, or behead someone, it’s great news for them. They must be having a party.

Yeah, how do they celebrate? I mean, they can’t have a drink or anything.

It’s not all about drinking. We ought to be able to have a good time without alcohol, shouldn’t we?

Says who?

I’m just saying. The Anglo-European culture is the only one in the world that thinks celebration requires drugs to be taken.

Drugs?

Can you imagine people saying ‘Oh wow, you’re getting engaged? Let’s shoot up some smack!’

You don’t know some of my friends, do you?

I know hardly any of them. You never introduce me to them.

I wonder why.

I’m just saying that reporters only report on all the bad stuff that happens in the world, and that means we give undue weight to it.

You don’t think we ought to know if World War Three is about to break out?

Sure. But we shouldn’t let it get us down.

Get us down? Do you know how many nuclear warheads the United States and Russia have between them? Not to mention Korea.

Are we about to die? I mean, today.

Probably not.

So what are you worrying about then?

Tomorrow. Or the day after.

Tomorrow Schmtomorrow. The past is gone, the future is yet to come, and the present is infinitesimal.

Look, the future may be yet to come, but it has an astonishing potential to fuck up the present, which, incidentally, I would rather did not get so infinitesimal that it vanishes altogether.

Do you think you can affect the future?

Well, I probably can’t stop Trump starting a nuclear war with Putin, if that’s what you mean.

You might be able to. The butterfly effect suggests that all things are inter-related. Large consequences can come from tiny actions.

Really? What should I do?

That’s the trouble. You can’t know what you should do using the butterfly effect.

I can’t know?

Well, you must know the kind of thing. You smile at someone, that puts them in a better mood, they do their work as a surgical nurse more carefully, a genius diplomat survives his surgery as a result instead of dying on the table, and then she is able to bring about world peace. And all because you smiled.

Oh, you mean, like Karma. You really believe that?

It’s not Karma. There doesn’t have to be a balancing out. Maybe you don’t smile, but you snap at someone instead. You put them in a bad mood. They already feel that society owes them something. They go and mug the same surgical nurse. In her place the surgeon has to use someone else who is inexperienced but very eager to please. The genius diplomat still survives and still brings about world peace. Except this time it’s a man.

Why’s it a man?

It was a different example.

But isn’t that just saying that stuff is complicated?

Did I ever suggest it wasn’t?

But that doesn’t tell me what I should do to save the world, does it?

No.

So what should I do? Nothing? That’s your answer to the world’s problems? Do nothing?

It isn’t possible to do nothing, is it? Pascal said that all the troubles of the world came from man’s inability to sit still in a room.

I take it he wasn’t a farmer.

Philosopher.

With servants, probably?

Yes.

Easy for him to talk then, isn’t it? He probably liked sitting still in a room, reading his books and musing. But who’s going to bring him his supper?

Exactly.

Exactly?

We have to get on with stuff. Enjoy our supper. Not worry about things. Things will sort themselves out. And if they don’t – well, at least we enjoyed our supper.

Let’s have a drink.

Or shoot up some smack?

 

 

 

 

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