At the end of the year I like to take a little time to think about where I am in this life and if all the years I took getting to this place actually panned out for the best. Happy to say, yes. Not just happy, but ecstatic. And why? Because I have found the key to happiness.
"The key to happiness?" you ask. "Oh you poor deluded egomaniac. And we're supposed to -- what? Listen to you prattle on about how great your life is? Bah, as if!"
If you say you're happy -- and not just happy but happy because you've found the literal KEY TO HAPPINESS -- there will always be someone out there who immediately doubts you. People don't readily give up the applause to those who scream, "Yippy! I love life!" The reason why? Because the one thing we all have in common is a desire to be truly happy and if we're not and someone else is, we can't help but sting with envy.
So, let's put the envy aside and jump right to the point. The key to happiness is in not caring what anyone else thinks of you on any level at all, and in not comparing your life to a dream, a fantasy, someone else's life or a perfect imaginary situation that you somehow insisted into your life as something that must be -- or all is lost. That's it. Caring what others say or think starts breaking us down at a very early age, and if you really want to be happy, you're going to have to undo that program, and that chip is deeply embedded, baby. It's like we have a tattoo on the inside of our eyelids that says with each blink: Doubt yourself.
Scaling down the massive pack of lies that we've come to know as what we're supposed to be as opposed to what we really are is difficult, but it starts with the simple recognition of how we compare ourselves to others in almost every situation. We do it in crowds, in familiar situations -- and we do it when we're all alone. Comparing ourselves to others presents a broad field of loser possibilities: how we look, how we eat, what we're supposed to be doing according to the accepted standards, how successful we are in relationships, business, parenting -- these things (and so many, many other examples) are the very things that thwart us from being authentically happy.
The kicker is pretty ironic too, because along with the universal need to be happy comes the universal cry to be individual, and the funny thing about that is -- we all have our own way of doing things yet we deprive ourselves the pleasure of just being who we are because we constantly compare ourselves to others. So, everybody wants to be themselves yet denies this calling so that they can be like everyone else. We end up a bunch of twats who won't move unless someone else gives us the thumbs up. Meanwhile, they're waiting on someone else to give them the OK, and on and on.
We sing a good tune about being individual and flying the freak flag high, yet very few actually fly the flag unless they get a pass that allows them to do so.
The freak flag. Just the term makes it seem so radical and edgy, when in fact, the freak flag is really just being yourself and owning it. So, being one's self is being freaky, and yet, the truth is that we're all freaky in this way and we've all repressed being our natural selves for the sake of fitting in and we fly our freak flag only when the guidelines say it's cool. The rule book says: 1. Fly your freak flag when we say so. 2. Fly your freak flag en masse. 3. Fly your freak flag because we accept freak flag flying here.
Fleffafluhfleffeffa -- lotta F's there. Still, ain't nothin' freaky or edgy about being an individual who only dares to conform to the set parameters for being an individual. It's like the phrase, "Think outside the box." Once you've taken that monster phrase in all of its commercialism and applied it to your own individuality, you might as well know yourself as so in the box your joints are hurting.
Want to be an individual and not a reaction to someone else? Be yourself and don't worry for one second about what anyone on earth thinks of you. I don't mean act irresponsibly, I mean just be your dang self.
I do not fit in anywhere, and only because "everywhere" has decided that my kind is not acceptable. And why is a good person like me considered outside of the norm? Well, let's see...
I adore being alone, as in single. I don't harbor any secret desire to be in a relationship and I'm not in the slightest bit willing to change my status. The world hates this about me! They insist I'm kidding myself, and yet, I'm happy and I keep it this way. Do I care what they think?
What do I do all day, every day? I paint in my studio. Wake up, paint. Midday -- paint. Late night? Up to my eyeballs in painty paint paint. The world: Why you paint so much? Don't you want to go out and be with people, have fun, go to movies, eat dinner and be social? Me: No. I want to paint until I die because that's what makes me happy.
I live my life as me. I wake up in my artsy fartsy world, I wear no make up, I'm lightly tattooed, slightly overweight, black-haired, silent, hyper-creative, in love with my kid, fiercely independent -- I have no desire to travel the world or read James Joyce, I couldn't give a rat's ass if you think I'm pretty or not and I have absolutely no interest in world affairs or politics. I talk to myself and my invisible friends all day long and I have an absolute ball with life. Any single item that I've mentioned here might be enough to get someone into a snit, but the reality is -- I don't care. And the less I care, the happier I am.
I do not want what I haven't got -- Sinead O'Connor said it best.
The sad part is this: Many people will read this and relate 100 percent. I'm not alone. What makes me such a freak is what makes a million people who are just like me freaks. The deal is -- we're all really not freaks, we're just individuals who crave individuality yet are afraid to go there because we care too much about what others think. Being a freak is normal. Being "normal" is freakish. It's not normal to be someone you're not, and that, unfortunately, is what most people do for their entire lives. They settle, they push no boundaries, they repress and they fade into the pack. Because it's safe. But it's not life.
I put on a pink shirt the other day, to impress a friend of mine. I wanted to show her that I don't only dress in black. I looked in the mirror and thought, "This is not me." I replaced the shirt with a black one and felt better. Impressing her suddenly seemed silly. I thought to myself, "I am who I am. To thine own self be true."
So, I'll say to you what I say to myself everyday. "Live your own life, schmuck. Live your own life."
Oh, and don't forget to read the greatest novel ever written in the history of the world, Angels and Echoes. It was written by that carefree freak with the artsy fartsy attitude and the short black hair.