Monday, February 14, 2011

Pursuit? That's Like Running, Right?

As a citizen of the United States, I have a Constitutional right to the pursuit of happiness, but thankfully there's no imperative to actually hunt it down. Pursuit sounds a tad too strenuous for my taste. If happiness were to suddenly appear, I'd want to be looking my best, not all sweaty in my ratty workout clothes. Besides, one look at my handcuffs, and happiness would surely turn heel and flee.

Now, lying in wait, that I could do.

The biggest mistake, of course, is confusing other things for happiness. A truly fine piece of chocolate is momentary joy, but it isn't happiness. Money in the bank may be satisfying, but again, it isn't happiness. Unless it is happiness for you. Like three people looking at a shade of pinkish-purple and trying to decide if it's fuchsia, mauve, or orchid, happiness is in the eye of the beholder.

But assuming that I'd know happiness when I saw it, what kind of trap would I use to capture it? Do I want ferocious happiness? That calls for a tiger pit. Delirious happiness? I'm thinking maybe a high-powered dart gun and duct tape. Ethereal happiness? World's biggest butterfly net.

What to use as bait? Illusory happiness seems drawn to self-deception, while quiet happiness likes to curl up on a warm lap.

And where to store it? I know that you'll be shocked, but my house didn't come with a dungeon. Oh, the humanity! Not that I'd keep happiness shackled to a wall. No. Happiness is kind of like fireflies. Fun to run after in bare feet across the lawn at dusk, fun to trap in an old mayonnaise jar for a couple of minutes, but best just experienced in the moment and let go.


  1. happiness is nothing, is it, really? a break from pain. and pain, perception only. and so all is an illusion?

    and yet, this orange in my mouth!

    absolutely enjoyed this.


  2. Hi Kathleen,

    a playful approach to happiness - is that allowed? :-)

    The idea of a big happiness hunting is worthy of Leer or Dahl.

    Thanks for the smile.

  3. I'd say chase it with a butterfly net, but that might be too '60's. Hmm.


  4. What a lovely riot of metaphor, Kathleen!

  5. Mike - thanks for the compliments!

    Garce - happiness is a quick little sucker, and big butterfly nets tend to have a majestic, and slow, sweep. But Sponge Bob seems to have a good time chasing jellies with them.

    Lisabet - thanks.

  6. Delightfully whimsical yet sensible, Kathleen. BTW, that famous line in the U.S. Constitution about the "pursuit of happiness" is paraphrased from John Locke's "pursuit of property." For him, apparently, happiness really was money in the bank (or more likely, a few acres of land with serfs working it). What must one do to pursue property (esp in the form of real estate, which can't run away)?? Topic for a completely different blog!
    - Jean Roberta, who can't seem to comment here as anything other than Anonymous.

  7. Jean - If it's standing still, I have a shot at catching it!


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