*Thought this was a pretty epic story by Meggie Royer – for anyone who has thought about the day after it’s all over.
I made myself breakfast in bed. I added salt and pepper to my eggs and used my toast for a cheese and bacon sandwich. I squeezed a grapefruit into a juice glass. I scraped the ashes from the frying pan and rinsed the butter off the counter. I washed the dishes and folded the towels.
The morning after I killed myself, I fell in love. Not with the boy down the street or the middle school principal. Not with the everyday jogger or the grocer who always left the avocados out of the bag. I fell in love with my mother and the way she sat on the floor of my room holding each rock from my collection in her palms until they grew dark with sweat. I fell in love with my father down at the river as he placed my note into a bottle and sent it into the current. With my brother who once believed in unicorns but who now sat in his desk at school trying desperately to believe I still existed.
The morning after I killed myself, I walked the dog. I watched the way her tail twitched when a bird flew by or how her pace quickened at the sight of a cat. I saw the empty space in her eyes when she reached a stick and turned around to greet me so we could play catch but saw nothing but sky in my place. I stood by as strangers stroked her muzzle and she wilted beneath their touch like she did once for mine.
The morning after I killed myself, I went back to the neighbors’ yard where I left my footprints in concrete as a two year old and examined how they were already fading. I picked a few daylilies and pulled a few weeds and watched the elderly woman through her window as she read the paper with the news of my death. I saw her husband spit tobacco into the kitchen sink and bring her her daily medication.
The morning after I killed myself, I watched the sun come up. Each orange tree opened like a hand and the kid down the street pointed out a single red cloud to his mother.
The morning after I killed myself, I went back to that body in the morgue and tried to talk some sense into her. I told her about the avocados and the stepping stones, the river and her parents. I told her about the sunsets and the dog and the beach.
The morning after I killed myself, I tried to unkill myself, but couldn’t finish what I started.
By Meggie Royer
Don’t underestimate the ineloquent man. He had been quiet all night; slowly his bottles of beer started to empty, he turns to me, knowing full well that we are very much the same. The alcohol making his shyness dissipate. He opens his mouth, brash yet philosophical words spill out, the words making perfect sense. Our repartee goes on; the party doesn’t notice our quiet isolation within the circle, keeping to ourselves. We don’t feel recharged by participating in the social gathering, preferring the company of one person like ourselves or on our own. The silence is nearly always welcomed. Everyone else is exchanging the niceties and frivolous conversations about the drama that seems to rule their lives, sometimes it’s nice to just forget about the drama. Our conversation is on the analysis of why society is slowly trying to force people to become extroverts in order to succeed in life.
The discussion becomes more heated, no one notices, everyone keeps downing their drinks, mine remains untouched as I sit on the edge of my chair exchanging worldviews with the most unassuming and unobtrusive yet knowledgeable person I’ve met in a long while, the surprise is most welcome. At the end of the night before the party proceeds to head to the clubs I ask him why he chose me to talk to. He responded by saying that he had watched me, noticing how I waited in the group watching and hearing everyone, yet contributing nothing, knowing full well that their conversations and accepted social niceties held absolutely no appeal to me and himself, our shared mutual interests made us feel sociable that night, yet we hadn’t been.
For all the noise that the other people were making, we had become unaware; we had mutually forsaken everyone’s company for our own. Our facade of participating in the group conversations lasted the night, our pretence of caring about the conversations of the group came to an end. My night was exactly what I needed. I was pleasantly surprised that I had underestimated the seemingly unremarkable man that I hadn’t given a second glance. He had used words with great meaning, yet I had originally rejected this potential as a conversationalist due to his inarticulate speech, I’m happy to say I was very wrong and won’t be making the same mistake in the future.
The reason we want things isn’t because they will make us intrinsically happy, instead we expect them to bring us happiness. The paradox of happiness, whereby we can live in conditions that have improved significantly over the generations, yet our level of actual ‘happiness’ hasn’t been enriched. I’d call it ‘smoke with no fire’, people creating reasons to gain happiness yet no noticeable effect. What are the causes of happiness? Do the contents of our moment to moment experiences reflect a truer form of happiness?
People in some instances are incapable of finding their own happiness, always in pursuit. The idea of happiness becomes a fugitive emotion that remains intangible despite achieving successes. You have to examine what it intrinsically means to pursue happiness both morally and ideologically. It has been judged that the psychic damage is caused by the educational and economic systems, pretending to find logical solutions to human unhappiness. The perception of happiness is becoming entangled by social and intellectual idealisations. The pursuit of happiness has become naturally embedded within culturally acceptable norms. The psychological and emotional consequences of pursuing happiness in contemporary society analyses what constitutes as true happiness often contrasting with the over dramatized unhappiness.
People insist that the notion of happiness can’t be left in the dominion of vague feelings or inexplicable internal conviction, requiring empirical reasoning and calculation, and not merely left as an ambiguous sentiment. Using empirical reasoning to judge happiness would neglect the subjective nature of happiness, interpretations of happiness often misinterpreting utilitarianism and hedonism as happiness. Andrew H. Mills poses the question: “Suppose that all your objects in life were realized; that all the changes in institutions and opinions which you are looking forward to, could be completely effected at this very instant: would this be a great joy and happiness to you?’ And an irrepressible self-consciousness distinctly answered, ‘No!”.
We then can argue how reliably aware are we of our own happiness, often referring to past days as “happy old days”, but is that a reliable judge of emotion? Seeking happiness means to accept and commit oneself to examining the incompatible desires and values that are internally manifested. Is ‘true’ happiness actually attainable, or is it merely a pedestal sentiment that is unreachable, promoting people to keep trying harder to pursue ‘true’ happiness. Mills has further stated that mental cultivation and selfishness generates unhappiness. My belief is that to achieve a semblance of happiness people need to share the view that human life is imperfectly arranged, but that its wrapped in potential.
Charles Dickens: “Where is happiness to be found then? Surely not everywhere? Can that be so, after all? Is this my experience?”