Monday, July 12, 2010


I'm the kind of person who wants to be happy as often as possible in this life. Most people would say they are of the same disposition. If you were to ask me specifically what I want from life in order to be happy, however, I would be in serious trouble. I suspect most people are like me, in that respect. For example, I know that I often confuse pleasure with happiness and that makes me wonder about what it actually is -- this thing called happiness?

Since happiness is a state rather than a circumstance, it is necessary to understand that it is something which is intensely personal. It may have something to do with objects or people or some other external factor(s). It might be a result of a process or perhaps just a side benefit, like having written a poem brings me a sense of pleasure, for example.

I do not write poetry because it is fun, however because I find the actual experience stressful. I actually don’t write poetry because I am feeling happy, either. I start to have the feeling as if something is exciting me, not necessarily in a pleasant way. I have a sensation rather akin to discomfort, which I actually realize is not going to get any better until I have done some writing. It isn’t out of a sense of relief either that I begin to experience pleasure.

As I sit there looking at the completed work (as complete as a poem ever gets) it is neither the page nor the words on it that arouses that feeling of happiness and pleasure but it is a very personal sensation of something beautiful and real existing not only where I first saw it but also somehow resident within the thing, the poem, that is trying to hold it. This is also how I experience pleasure and the sensation of being happy when I read the poems of others.

The sheer intangibility of the experience and virtually everything that is associated with it makes it such a difficult thing not only to describe but even to simply understand. So what is happiness for you? A woman once told me that happiness for her was to be lying in a tub of hot, soapy water at the end of a long hard day. Although that sounds good, I suspect most of what she was describing was about physical pleasure and emotional relief. By that I mean to say that endless days of sitting in a hot bath would be boring. The physical experience of pleasure is not enough to qualify for comprehending this most intangible of intangible sensation.