If you want to know what essay I’m referencing to in this next English post, here you go: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxcQgjnJhCFGbzJEN1E3NDFxcU0/edit?usp=sharing
Recently in my US history class, we analyzed the Bill of Rights from the Constitution. At the time, I thought the subject was rather boring, but reading this essay made me reconsider how I view the amendments. How I view our country, really. Ciardi considers the historical background of happiness, writing that “what the Founding Fathers declared for us as an inherent right, we should do well to remember, was not happiness but the pursuit of happiness.” happiness is in the pursuit itself, in the meaningful pursuit of what is life-engaging and life-revealing, which is to say, in the idea of becoming.” Has happiness been impervious for so long that even those untainted by the mindless society of today understood that the rewards of happiness are not found like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow but rather within the transcendent beacons of light gleaming through the rain that is
hell life? Ciardi’s essay makes us think: maybe we do have something in common with our predecessors whose lives we’ve discounted as too simple to be polluted by the ‘troubles’ of today. Every person accustomed to a society that relies on the immediate gratifications of Pavlovian style rewards should could agree with Ciardi when he says this: “Happiness is never more than partial… happiness is in the pursuit itself, in the meaningful pursuit of what is life-engaging and life-revealing, which is to say, in the idea of becoming.” Ah. Yes, there’s the message all of Ciardi’s cynicism was cloaking throughout the essay. Even though he comes off as kind of an exaggerated critic, his covert efforts to persuade are gratified; we are not a species that should be addicted to the ephemeral happiness that the free-market economy provides, but rather we should be addicted the happiness surmised through becoming a person worthy enough to change the world.
John Ciardi’s opinions on existing through happiness are spot on, even if his negative opinion of society is a little obtuse. I know I’m not the only one, but I sometimes feel like I am. I constantly find myself wanting more clothes, wanting more instruments, wanting more food, wanting more money, wanting more ‘necessities’, and quite blatantly, wanting more happiness. The essay reads that “advertising is one of our major industries, and advertising exists not to satisfy desires but to create them. For that matter, our whole economy is based on a dedicated insatiability.” We evolved in a fashion so focused on being better than everyone else around us (thanks, Darwin) that our schema of happiness is not really pertaining to happiness at all but rather to the survival of our egos. I wish everybody could see past our façade of happiness like Ciardi has.
Personally, happiness has been a struggle within the past week. On my last (unassigned) blog post, I wrote about sacrificing the guilt our brains rely on to face reality, regardless of whether it is good or bad. I also mentioned my uncle who had been battling a severe cancer for eight months. On Wednesday morning, reality was stripped away from him as he took his last breaths and ascended into an ethereal world unknown to us earthly humans. Of all people in the word, he is the epitome of what I, as well as Ciardi, would describe as happiness. He grew up in humble beginnings on a farm in the middle-of-nowhere Ohio. As life progressed, he got married to the woman he loved, raised three children whom he adored, owned a bank and a carwash, and always understood that he would never need more than what he worked for to be happy. Of course, working for all of these joys shouldn’t be considered easy, but what became of this hard work is a status that few people will ever attain. He has reached the eternal happiness that so many of us are forgetting about. So when you ask what happiness is, I’ll tell you that it’s becoming someone who thrived in the hardships. It’s becoming the person who changed every single persons’ world for the better. It’s becoming the joy in his family’s thoughts. It’s becoming Chris Willman.
I’ll love you and remember you always.