IN THE HEADLINES: WHY IS HAPPINESS OFFENSIVE?

A Happy moment between sisters.
A Happy moment between sisters.

I’ve been delaying writing my next piece due to the orgasmic nature of my last instalment “The Girl Who believed in fairy-tales”. Who knew that life could be so, so, so, delicious… amid such evil in the world. Sometimes I struggle to balance the two with the help of others who find “happiness” as a concept problematic. Some people find it offensive to see you being so happy and smiling when the headlines paint such a grim picture of our world and our fellow human beings. How can you continue to laugh and smile while others are suffering? How can you be happy in a world like this?

TRICKY SUBJECT?

This question reminds me of a time I spent in the third floor of an apartment building on the hills of Yeoville, Johannesburg. It was my second time living there. Trinity House. I had such an awesome time in that flat: guests called it the love house! With the inspiration of my brother peace, we decided to call the study – where I kept all my books and where I planned to write; the love factory. We decided to name it this because we wanted anything that took place in the house to be about, for and to love. We wanted work to become love.

We referred to the space as the lovetry, in short, which later started to sound a lot like love-a-tree. It was a creative environment, where souls mixed together, shared stories, music, movies, quiet time and prayer. We had enough coffee to last for days, vanilla chai tea was always brewing in the kitchen, the living room wafted with amazing sounds curated by peace. On the stove, fresh vegetables steamed, mealie-meal bubbled, basmati rice purred, the fruit basket was always full of vegetables, the cookie jars were filled with oat crunchies, chocolate crunch cookies, and sweets. It  was just  beautiful to be home. I welcomed many in my humble abode. It was summer in winter when you walked in.

One day in October of that year, a great friend from Swaziland paid us a visit. She said “I’m coming to Johannesburg and I am coming to your house!” It was such an honour to hear her say that!  Out of all the options she had for accommodation in Johannesburg, she chose me to host her, so of course it was a special occasion and we always celebrate special occasions. One night during her stay we shared music, stories, dreams, drinks and chit-chats. As the day light turned to dusk; my brother peace played a song none of us had heard before anywhere. It was a symphony of sounds gleaned from natures’ vibrations, of drum beats moving sand from all over the world. It was a clarion call from the source which sent us all up on our feet in rhythmic chords dancing and digging into ground with our souls. It was simply electric.  Soon enough we all heard a drumming that was not in harmony with the ones we were dancing to. At the door, the neighbour had come to complain. I still feared the wrath of human beings and sent my brother to speak to him. The neighbour was not happy,” could we put the music down and stop dancing?”. “Hhawu?” was the collective response of surprise, we all hummed in unison. Folding our hands, shaking heads from side to side, and pacing up and down the minute dance floor. “What is to be done now? Why should we stop dancing? After he returned to his flat below ours we tried our very best to contain the fire that was burning inside all of us. How do you contain such joy? It was not enough for him. Later he came back and what he said the second time caught my attention on the living room floor where I sat cross-legged attempting to speak in hushed tones and loud whispers. Clearly they were not low enough. “What is wrong with you people huh? Just because you are happy does not mean everyone else is. Show some respect!” He bellowed, promising to report us to the body corporate and our landlord and have “him” evict us because he had, had “enough” of this.

I was shocked at his reaction because as far as I was concerned this particular “happy” situation had never happened before at our flat. Seriously. Though we listened to music everyday – we had never danced like that before! And we wanted more. Now we had to stop before we even started.

Eish! Can you imagine! I started to feel a sadness growing inside of me. How could I be this happy? What was this man going through that was so bad, that I had to stop being and feeling happy with my friends and family right at this very minute? I never knew that my own happiness could harm another, and fill another person with such rage! How can such a good and beautiful feeling be the cause of such excruciating pain in another. It didn’t make sense to me.  I was curious to find out why. I admonished my brothers and sisters to try to keep it down because somewhere in my heart I knew our neighbour meant every word he said.  Soon enough I received an email from my landlord informing me that she would be moving back into her the flat in a month, I should prepare to leave at month’s end. I was not surprised.  I thanked her. My brother and I shared such a wonderful time bonding together at Trinity hall I will never forget that place.

SO WHAT’s WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

Nothing. His sadness is as legitimate as my happiness. Which leads back to my initial question.  Why does my happiness and the way I choose to express it, offend people? Is there a way of being happy that will not cause others pain?  Where does the pain come from? I remembered that I was once in pain, in fact truth be told I am in pain every day. So many things make me sad sometimes, then I think… what can I do about it? The only way to ease another’s pain is show them that even in pain there’s joy, somehow you find yourself laughing even when tears of sorrow are streaming down your face. Sometimes one is stronger than the other…at other times one leads to another – both serve the same purpose, to heal.  A great friend of mine summed it up nicely this weekend. She said being sad, angry frustrated depressed is easy, it’s comfortable to just stay there. The challenge is to wake up every day and find a reason to be happy. A reason to celebrate to appreciate, to dance, to smile, to laugh to explore, to learn to try again, to inspire others.  To dance for those who can’t dance, to sing for those who can’t sing, and to write for those can’t see, to read for those who can’t hear. To make music for those who can’t play. To laugh for those who can’t until you’re the reason for their laughter.

That’s the challenge of life. To be joyful. Grateful, thankful for all those times shared with those we love and cherish. For the times we get to do what we love. For the times when living is easy.  It is not an easy challenge. But it is fortunately the only way to change anything negative.  To remind others that sadness and pain are not the only emotions or feelings that exist. And all of them come from within. All of them depend on you. You have to be happy first before you can receive happy things.  It takes courage, strength and resilience to continue being happy even as the world seems to be falling apart.   Because by loving, being happy, you are  creating the world you want to live in. Happiness is the antidote to sadness.  We can all be sad, but we need happiness, joy in order to feel better.

So it makes sense that we should all try to be as happy as possible. This does not at all mean that  bad things don’t happen, it’s about finding opportunities to love where it seems hard or impossible.

Because with love (joy happiness) everything is possible.  Ultimately, happiness and joy are a choice you make every day. It is like deciding  what to eat, what to wear, where to go. You always have a choice.  You choose.

Choosing to be happy every day  – is  -the real challenge. There’s enough sadness in the world to last our lifetimes.

Choosing Joy, Love, Gratefulness, has been the  greatest challenge my life. It was hard at first, because I never believed that I could happy in the face of sadness. But I don’t t regret choosing joy! Because each day I wake happier than the last. If that’s even possible.

I hope you will join me! I won’t let you go.

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