No one is happy.
I'm not generalizing here. No one is happy. Not a single person. At least that's the conclusion I've come to these past few months. If I go out to lunch, undoubtedly the people at the table next to me are complaining about jobs or family. I read the paper every day. The op/ed pieces are rife with misery, This sucks, that sucks, we're in recession, our leaders are crooks, etc. Misery is everywhere. There's even a "misery index" that measures the country's mood (it's quite high, by the way. No surprise). My friends seem more unhappy than happy. My wife, though happy with me, seems unhappy about every other aspect of her life. And don't think that that doesn't start rubbing off on me.
It's the absolute peak of irony that in an age where technology has us to the point where we can do almost whatever we want whenever we want to, and it's still not good enough. I've never heard so many nostalgic for the "good old days". Sure, I think about when I first came west and lived down in Kingman, Arizona. My wage: $5.50 and hour. My first paycheck was something like $300. My lunches and dinners were either Buddig meat sandwiches or Michealina's frozen pastas (.99 apiece!). A big splurge was driving down to Laughlin and gambling $10, hoping to turn it into.......$20! There are times where I look back wistfully (yeah, wistfully!) on those times, but realize that if I could magically transport myself back to that time and place, I'd be dying to get back to the present.
Why are we so unhappy? When we see a person walking down the street with a smile on their face, we're more likely to think that that same person has a screw loose. Happiness is meant with resentment. Happiness breeds guilt. How can I be happy when halfway around the world there are entire countries that are starving? How can I be happy when we have troops fighting to protect a freedom in some God-forsaken place, fighting a war that will never, ever end (you don't defeat terrorism. You only win battle by battle)? Are we cursed because we live in the greatest country that ever was and truly don't know that hardships mean more that just the cable going out?
The next time you go to a store, no doubt the clerk will ask how you're doing. I'm sure your response will be "fine", or "good", or at worst, "ok". Ask the clerk in return, and you'll most likely get the same answer back. Ask them if they mean what they say. I'm guessing they don't, and more often than not, you're just as likely to be telling a little white lie as well.
As it stands currently, I'm sitting at home on a beautiful 70 degree day, watching a pre-season baseball game. I made a pretty darn good sandwich for lunch. I took my dog to the park and he made some new friends. Sounds pretty good. I talked with my wife, whom I love dearly. She's having a good day. No drama. The house is quiet, the neighborhood tranquil, and an afternoon of more of the same awaits.
So why am I unhappy? Why are all of us?