I was in English class this past week (the course name is "What Is Literature?"...our prof asked us that question the first day and we just stared at him. Turns out he couldn't answer us either..) and our class was discussing Alice Munro's collection of short stories, "A Friend of My Youth." We got on the subject of what the message was...what Munro was trying to say about life and happiness. The last line of the book is: "They are fairly happy." A girl raised her hand and said, "I think she's saying that something will always go wrong in life. Munro is not optimistic at all." I raised my hand and said: "I think that Munro is trying to tell us that life will always have it's problems, but the fact that the are "fairly" happy at the end shows that they are able to get through their obstacles. I think that she's trying to tell us that we can and will get through them." My optimistic answer caused an uproar in the corner and our class went on and on and on about Munro. We somehow got into "Do you think anyone can be TOTALLY happy?"
One person raised their hand and said, "People are never happy with their lives...they always want more." Another classmate: "Well, some people have all the money in the world, family, friends...but they're not happy." Then we got on the topic of needs and wants and the difference...anyways, the discussion got awfully confusing and off topic...The next comment I remember from one of my classmates was, "I think that you can be truly happy. It's when you don't have any problems, worries, and you are having the time of your life. Like the summer after my senior year..." Haha...so one of my friends in the class says, "I don't think that anyone can ever be truly happy - there is always something you'll want or need, or some problem that is affecting you. I think that the only time that I will ever be HAPPY is when I'm on my deathbed, and I think back on my life and say to myself, 'Wow, I had a happy life.'" One of the girls in the corner that was angry about my optimistic answer ironically said to my friend, "You are being so pessimistic." Apparently she is the perfect balance between a pessimist and an optimist.
Anyways, the point of this blog was to say that class ended before I could say what I wanted to say about happiness and those people who have everything in the world...it reminded me of Aarian Marshall's essay, Burning in Heaven. I'm not making a direct comparison or anything, it just sparked an idea in my head during class. I wanted to say that people can have textbook-happy lives but still want conflict...it's a matter of the excitement. For instance, people don't go to movies to watch a static storyline - they go to see conflict. People naturally look for conflict. It's entertaining. You can't appreciate the happiness in life without the downfalls. Ok that's all for today!