I’m driving down a road I’ve been down too many times. I pass run down trailer after run down trailer. I pass bars that look like they’re about to collapse, buildings that caught on fire that no one decided to fix up or tear down, houses with run down junk cars taking up space in the driveway.
I’m in the place no one leaves. I’m in the place where everyone gets trapped and stuck. I’m in the place where the people who are born here and the same one’s who die here.
I’m in small town U.S.A.
I’m looking around at everything and it’s all the same fields, dirt road paths, tractor crossing signs and farm equipment that have been here since I was a kid.
I visit my mom at work and all I see around the building is cliché slogans on signs and posters trying to define happiness in words so everyone can take a brief moment to think “that sign is bullshit” or maybe the optimistic “it’s not that bad, it’s almost the end of the day.”
But really, what the fuck is happiness?
I look around me every day and I don’t see happiness. I see tired eyes and fake smiles. I see people pretending to be okay when they’re just counting down the seconds until they can go home and hide away from the world. I see people who can only hold a conversation if they’re complaining about something. I see emptiness.
We define happiness by what we think it is. We hear stories and we think that’s got to be what happiness feels like. We see pictures and assume that the people smiling in the photo have to be happy. We watch our favorite actors and idealize their life, wondering what it would be to be like them for a day because they must be happy.
Which makes me wonder,
Is happiness something that’s obtainable for an extended period of time? Or is it only sustainable for moments?
You can be laughing so hard you cry and not truly be happy. You can feel loved and supported and not truly be happy. You can have endless money and not truly be happy. You can have everything in the world you want and not truly be happy.
We’ve created this idea, this notion in our heads that we can only be happy if we amount to certain things, if we own and possess certain things, if a certain person loves us, if we live in a certain place or drive a certain car.
Why do we do that?
I can tell you that I’ve got a sweet ass job, I’ve got wonderful friends, I’ve got endless love and support from my family and yet I go to bed unsatisfied every night. And I feel fucking greedy for feeling that way because I know that’s a lot more than most people have and I’m still not happy.
Every night I lie in bed and wonder what I’m doing, I wonder what my purpose is and if I’ll ever know. I wonder if I’ll be one of those people who live and die here. I wonder if I’ll be one of those people who never move on, never let go, not because I don’t want to but because I don’t know how. I don’t know where to go, I don’t know what to do and I don’t know when I will know.
I look around me and question when was the last time I felt something real, something that made me feel alive and purposeful. Then I wonder if it’s possible to feel that way every day or if we’re always going to be chasing the idea of happiness forever unsure of our meaning.
I just can’t help but wonder, is happiness real or are we just telling ourselves it’s out there so we can have a little hope that there’s something better than this? Because when you’ve got hope, at least you’ve got something to believe in.
Maybe I’ll never know. Or maybe I’ll find something more fulfilling than these winding country roads that always seem to bring me home.
After all, happiness is a choice, or so they say.