You ask me the question over coffee. The waxing winter sun behind me casts kind light your hair. The blonde almost glows. Meanwhile, I look down, divining the sticky froth up the edges of my mug like entrails—looking for some sign, some answer to the question. You wait while I think. From the corner, a man on his cell phone filled the silence. I spat out, “No,” and after a ten minute rambling, I said, “Yes.” Then, I defended the contradiction. “A sign of my humanity,” I said.
I want happiness to define my life. But, if care be not taken, the anxiety of happiness slits my gut with her thousand-needled razors, loitering under early morning stairs, never even leaving at noonday. She haunts every moment, every breath, every kiss, every hug, tear and orgasm. She will knife my back and inflame my brain. I know she will. She’s done it before, demanding I fit her definition.
Every decision comes to an awful judgment seat, “Does this make me happy?” The question slices each moment in half, leaving the intuition’s infinitudes to dissect it convulsing on linoleum, castrated and impotent—all splendor and perdition sucked out, shucked out. And, while we wrestle the albatross of defining happiness by life’s missives, stops and jitters, the moment passes backward, along with innumerable others. If this be happiness, then I don’t want to be.
More than happiness, I want life: sorrow, pain, suffering, laughter, inappropriate jokes, the love of good friends, and a table spread with fine food (or tacos), coffee and erudite conversation and endless arguments over trifles and boredom, while flayed hearts expose demons to the air, including the maddening long nights of know-nothing no thing numbness and the brass door’d heavens shut for no Divine response will be given. This is life, too.
Along with the moments—always such brief moments!—of ecstasy and the feeling that everything will be okay. God is in his heaven and with the Virgin, his mother, and his Son is there on the altar under the form of stale wafers, hidden by incense, crappy sermons and fine hymns. Yes, there is happiness, but there is so much more than happiness. Happiness mingled with death, languishing sorrow, overcoming, transcendence and Opera and cuddling. It is beautiful—all of it, beautiful.
Happiness cannot be divined from froth or dissected by psychology. She can only be kissed with irreverent abandon with rude lusting for more. But, she’ll run through a back door to the next lucky asshole, while we walk in A.M. shame, scratching our heads. Happiness is a whore, but life is our wife.
But, when you asked me the question, did you feel it? Did you sense it in the silence between us, this flame, this perpetual Pentecost of the sizzling seraphic ecstasy when the imago Dei roams the earth, e’en to a coffee shop on the Virginia border? To the discerning ear, the man in the corner on the cell phone was prophesying the gloria Dei (albeit unaware). And the bored barista behind me was burning like shook foil with the Götterfunken (albeit unaware). Even your hair was aflame with sunset. The God of Glory thunders through all sinners, saints and nature. This is not happiness, it is life. And I thirst for it.