Are we happy? Thomas Jefferson said we all have the right to the pursuit of happiness. What is happiness? Webster defines happiness as “The state of being happy; good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy.” These are all related to the state of mind.
The state of mind changes as age and we mature. Therefore, happiness for each of us changes over time. What made me happy as a child may not make me happy today, and what makes me happy today was sometimes unthinkable or unknown to me when I was young.
As a child, happiness might be a mother’s hug, a warm bottle and a full stomach. Later, it might be a teddy bear, a skateboard, a surfboard, or those special sneakers everyone is sporting.
As a teenager happiness might be a learner’s permit, a driver’s license, and a car. Of course, that led to cruising Beach Street, peeling rubber, and displaying my growing maturity to anyone who might be nearby. Was I ever happy.
As we age, the pursuit of happiness changes. It might go from a good marriage to a successful career, a home, children, disposable income, and the things money can provide. Now it starts to get dicey.
Does money provide happiness? Some say it does, others say it the root of unhappiness.
If we are fortunate, happiness is achieved through the appreciation of companionship, friends, nature, beauty, and good health. I find happiness in all the above.
There is one other aspect of life that brings me great happiness: Italian opera. Opera? You may ask. Aren’t most operas tragic? Yes. So how does tragedy result in happiness?
The plot lines of most Italian operas go something like this: love at first sight, joy and happiness, disappointment, deceit, jealousy, death by murder or illness, and often, suicide.
These are the dynamics of life: happiness leading to sadness and vice versa. Do the tragedies of opera make me happy? No, but the tragedies are enveloped in beauty. The beauty of music, voice, costume, and scenery. In addition, there is the drama and passion of everyday living.
Each of us experiences joy and disappointment. The evening news is a prime example of this dichotomy, yet we are surrounded by the beauty of nature, art and architecture, literature, and, most importantly, friendship.
We need to apply the drama of opera to everyday life. Let’s start with our political leaders. Rather than name-calling and insulting one another, our leaders should learn to sing.
If only our political leaders could behave like the impresarios of opera. Wouldn’t Congress be a better place if Nancy, Mitch, Chuck, and Donald learned arias of love, disappointment, and betrayal? In the end, we would all be much happier. Although we may disagree, we could at least shed a mutual tear for the beauty of our disagreement.
I can see and hear it now. The halls of Congress ringing with the melodic sounds of operatic arias; our leaders hugging one another and sobbing in joyous disagreement. If Congress becomes a happy place, America becomes a happy place. If our political leaders become happy people, we become happy people.
All this joy and happiness will also be extremely beneficial for the makers of Kleenex. The entire country will be walking around shedding tears of tragic joy! Think about it.
For more information: L_Tartaglino@hotmail.com