i’d like to document that right now i’m extremely happy. this was a weekend rivaling any i’ve had in a while. not because it was fourth of july — although the extra day off certainly helped — but because i got to spend a lot of time with someone i love, and it was a lot of fun.
i say this because i think i have, i think everyone has, a distorted reflective sense of happiness most of the time, and i want to try to get better about that.
there’s a salient example on my mind. i generally think of my final year of college and the summer after it as having been pretty happy, on the whole, with some notable exceptions. but those exceptions may have been closer to the rule themselves.
i’ve painted those things over with the merry veneer of weekly trips to packard’s, food porn appreciation, copious amounts of west wing, and the fact that i went to the frickin’ inauguration. all pretty cool. but i’ve spent a few minutes looking back over old communications, and have realized — remembered — that i was miserable most of the time last year.
this is a peculiar defense mechanism that humans have worked out. we have a remarkable ability to whitewash our histories. it’s the appalling reason infant boys aren’t anesthetised for circumcision — because they’re too young to have a vocabulary for pain, so they’ll never remember it. we enter the world in what must be a terrifying trip down a tight, dark canal — thank god we forget that. but even as adults, there are chasms between experienced and perceived and remembered happiness.
i described myself as “partly cloudy with a chance of showers” one day, which was a fair description. all my problems were — are — first-world problems. in the grand scheme of things, they were — are — just not terribly impressive. but from my limited perspective, it is fair to say that that year was not my best. the dizzyingly awful (at the time) career prospects, the grueling academic schedule, the heart-rending, multi-layered breakup. it was, for lack of a better word, rough.
there were, of course, all manner of sensations manic and delightful. plenty of triumphs. but to think that in my memory, i succeeded in relegating everything that went badly in a relatively difficult year to a mere footnote. i think i even relegated it to a footnote at the time.
i don’t want to footnote things. i don’t want to be ungrateful for any good fortune or pollyannaish about any bad fortune. i just want to learn how to be a little more honest with myself.