That thing called happiness
Yesterday I finally watched That Thing Called Tadhana. It's apparently the #hugot film of the year - boy leaves girl after eight years together, girl brings her broken heart to Baguio and Sagada to search for a cure. Or at least a balm for the pain. To be clear, I found the film corny, simplistic, and predictable, but I did love Angelica Panganiban's monologue in the first part of the movie. I find that it captures exactly what it felt like for a long-term relationship to just unceremoniously end.
You know what happened right? Late last year the person who I have been with for seven years left me. There are many reasons and many words said in the process, but like Mace in Tadhana said:
“Alam mo ‘yung love na 8 years na kayo? Sa ganong love ka pa ba magdududa? Pero wala pala sa tagal ng relasyon yun...Pag hindi ka na niya mahal, hindi ka na niya mahal.”
This movie made me remember the pain I had to go through to get past something that I thought was permanent. That was really the toughest bit: to let go of a future that I already had in my head, the surname that I thought I would carry, the texture of life I would have had with the person. It wasn't easy but I succeeded because I believed that the hurt will be over someday and something better will come along - I was right. "There are all kinds of love in the world, but never the same love twice," Anthony in Tadhana quotes F. Scott Fitzgerald.
I tell this to all my friends with broken hearts. Somewhere in creation, there is someone who will make you happy and love you the way you deserve; you will find this person one day. In the meantime you have to do everything that you need to do to be happy and not to pine for the past, for things that will never be.
After watching That Thing Called Tadhana, I saw Hector and the Search For Happiness where an unhappy psychiatrist travels around the world to find what it is exactly that makes people happy. He goes on a journey to China, Tibet, Africa, and Los Angeles to ask people how they define that elusive thing. He discovers a few things (in random order) like:
- Making comparisons can spoil your happiness
- Sometimes happiness is not knowing the whole story
- Happiness is to be loved for exactly who you are
- Happiness comes when you feel truly alive
- Many people only see happiness in their future
A character there says, "We should concern ourselves not so much with the pursuit of happiness but rather with the happiness of pursuit." I agree with this completely, because I've observed that I am happiest when I'm learning something new and creating something new. Of course there's a joy to seeing the results of the process, but getting there matters to me most. I am a sum of all my parts, but I am not greater just because I am whole.
This film made me realize that happiness is a skill that has to be learned. It doesn't randomly come from other people, a place, or an event. It comes from consciously surveying our life and seeing what it is that makes it good and right. You don't just step on happiness like a land mine. You search for it with a metal detector. You dig for it with a spade.
It's good to have goals that will direct the way you live your life, don't get me wrong. Perhaps you want to be CEO, travel for leisure, find someone to love forever. It's great that you have identified the things that can and will make you happy. But you also have to understand that achieving your goals does not exclude other sources of happiness. You can find it in smaller victories everyday if you could only recognize them for what they are.
So am I a happy person?
I sometimes complain about my life and feel empty inside and worry that I am not perfect or even enough and fear that I will lose everything that I love some day - but yes, I am happy. I get to do what I love most if not all of the time. I have many things to be grateful for. I create beauty with my paint and see it, really see it, when I walk past it.
I am certain that I have the skill and a large capacity for happiness. Do you?