“How is it, when the chief sources of human unhappiness, of misery and wretchedness, have largely been removed from our lives … that happiness still eludes so many of us? … What is it in us, or in the world we have created, that continues to hold us back?”
In the new edition of Quarterly Essay, David Malouf examines the condition of happiness in the modern world by returning to the wisdom of the classics. He writes of finding happiness in a most unlikely places.
I'm slightly unhappy about being unable to change this font out of italics. I'm also feeling a bit stir crazy today and would like to get the hell outta town, do a road trip to the Kundip shack, remove myself from being on call to grizzled old fishermen and other obligations. However I don't have the cash for fuel. This makes me (momentarily) unhappy, but not cripplingly so.
Speaking however of finding happiness in the most unlikely of places, my moments of true happiness, stillness and existential joy arrive when feeding animals, especially chickens. Standing in the chookpen and throwing wheat over the dirt to busily clucking chickens always makes me the happiest girl in the world.
When I mentioned this to my sister, whose profession is mechanics, she said: "Oh yes, I get that. My moments of true happiness come to me when I'm driving around in the bush, hunting for Valiant wrecks to rat parts from."
When do your random moments of pure, unthinking happiness arrive unbidden? (I'll be out the back, feeding the chooks.)