The Happy Life


To live happily, my brother Gallio,
is the desire of all men, but their minds are blinded to a clear vision of just what it is that makes life happy; and so far from its being easy to attain the happy life, the more eagerly a man strives to reach it, the farther he recedes from it if he has made a mistake in the road; for when it leads in the opposite direction, his very speed will increase the distance that separates him.

-Lucius Annaeus Seneca (Seneca the Younger) De Vita Beata ad Gallionum.

How the classic philosophers loved to wax on over happiness and life. It is important however. And yes, yet again inspired indirectly by the brother for we discussed the very oddity of the circumstances surrounding our communication.

Fundamentally, there is something accurate here – if happiness is only to be achieved by one goal then detouring, particularly in the opposite direction, will damage your chances. But how often is happiness to be found in only a single goal? Is this because we don’t know what truly makes us happy?

Then I look at these conversations. They make me happy, yet they are the result of pure sorrow! Reading these books we discuss, uncovering new sheet music, and having silly arguments about semantics makes me happy. Yet, surely, if I look at my path, I have made mistakes along the road. I still have striven and still strive to happiness. But perhaps I am not blind? Or perhaps it is recognizing that happiness is not demanding, fixed or fickle.

Happiness does not come from money, though it may be funded. Happiness can be as simple as a breath of wind rippling golden, August – sunned grass, or the toothless grin of an infant strolled for an afternoon jog. It can be the perfect phrase strumming your soul, played by your fingers without checking the music. Happiness can be a moment of silence with three quarters of an involving book waiting to be read and nowhere to have to be.

If I find happiness so readily, perhaps this doesn’t fully apply,  but there is a lesson I took from it, as well. Though it may not have been this Ancient Younger’s intention, it has reminded me that it is not a wrong path to find happiness when it presents itself. While the moral or social question may be something else, happiness from unusual circumstances is no less happiness.


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