Friday, September 17, 2010

A Question of Happiness

I'm always thinking. Analyzing. Figuring out. The fact is that's what a writer does: make sense of something then find a way to "show" it in fiction or nonfiction. However I have wondered if I do this because I write, or if I write because I do this. The whole chicken or egg question. I suspect for me that writing is the outlet for all my thinking, a place to channel or process all the thoughts that spin in my head. My very first memories are of trying to figure out, to make sense of a world I didn't understand.

I've been aware of this for a while. I've been on a quest to make sense of the world for decades. Quite frankly, for me, I think half the joy of writing is the puzzle of it all. I'm enlightened! That makes me happy! But recently after finishing up one of the Linda Francis Lee in NYC video shoots, the mystery cameraman and I stopped at an outdoor café for a drink and given the crowds we ended up sitting with a couple from out of town. We began to talk about life, aging, happiness. What struck me was that this lovely gentleman said that he had been perfectly happy until it was pointed out to him that he was not. I can't get that out of my head! My unquestionably existential question is: Was he really? If someone pointed out to him that he didn't appear happy could he possibly have been happy? Could he not have been aware of his "grumpy" state? And if he wasn't aware, was it possible that the way he acted didn't affect him, only his partner who admittedly wasn't happy and searching, questioning? Moreover, if the gentleman truly had been happy, is it possible that people who don't spend time thinking, analyzing, figuring out are happier than people who simply exist on the surface?

I doubt it, but of course I would think that! How could I afford to NOT think that? But as a writer, the question circles in my head. I probe it from different directions like a scientist trying to make sense of a conundrum. And, of course, I will use whatever nugget of truth comes out of the analysis in a book!

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