When Leslie posted this picture of me, friends on Facebook commented that I looked happy, free and at-peace. I loved and appreciated all the nice comments; for, in that moment, that is how I truly felt. But I keep coming back to this photo because it captures a me that is so not me. It captures a whimsical, joyful essence that in my case, can probably only ever be fleeting.
When I was growing up, my parents always talked about the importance of "being happy;" how you could have all the degrees and trophies, but if you weren't happy, none of it mattered. All they wanted was for me to be happy, and at the time, I thought it was an underwhelming wish meant for a far less-achieving person. Little did I know that the struggle for happiness was (and is) the most overwhelming one I would ever face.
I think about happiness a lot actually. Maybe because it doesn't come naturally to me: I am not easily amused, and I have mucho de genetic factors against me. I come from a long line of depressive Debbie Downers; people, who without meds, would probably be labeled as "f-ing crazy." And, let's be honest, if I weren't medicated, I would too.
But even with the meds, happiness eludes me. I forget that it's something I have to work at. I forget that for me, it will always be a process, never a state of being. Also, I forget that thinking positively is more or less a superficial fix. To some extent it works, but it's often a bandaid that unintentionally invalidates negative feelings... and dammit, negative feelings are feelings too!
The truth is: happiness is a lot of work. Life might look effortless on Facebook, but behind all the effortlessly happy pictures of my wife and kid, there are struggles, fights and nights where I've laid in bed thinking that even Yemen is a better place than where I currently am.
We were at CD102.5 Fall Fest last weekend. Cool event. CHVRCHES played along with some other bands that I don't know as well (because I'm a nerd and fake music fan). I was chatting with an acquaintance, who said, "I love all your Facebook pics. You have such a great family." I should have just said, "Thank you," but instead, I replied, "Thanks. We work really hard at it." And that's the truth.