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Happiness is an extremely uneventful subject


Florence Welch is my favorite artist. One of her songs, No Choir, starts like so:

And it’s hard to write about being happy
’Cause, the older I get
I find that happiness is an extremely uneventful subject
And there will be no grand choirs to sing
No chorus could come in
About two people sitting doing nothing


I listened to Jimmy Carr on a podcast a while back, and he said something that stuck with me. Amusingly, I mis-remembered the exact quote, and only realized that just now as I went to dig up the source to link to:

Jimmy says that the meaning of life is “enjoying the passage of time”. I’d mis-remembered it as him saying that “happiness is enjoying the passage of time”. I prefer my mis-remembered version and I’m sticking with that. I don’t claim to know what the meaning of life is, but finding happiness by enjoying the passage of time really resonates with me. It also jives quite nicely with finding sacred in the mundane.

Now what?

I find that when I’m intensely aware of the shortcomings of my life – when I’m ruminating on them, frustrated by them, wishing that some things were different – it’s quite hard to be happy. In those moments I’m looking forward to some imagined (maybe realistic, even) future state where things are better.

On the other hand, when I choose to set those things aside and be present (which is becoming such a ubiquitous word that I cringe just a bit writing it, but here we are), and notice what’s around me, or actively choose to look for something beautiful and meaningful in mundane everyday life, then happiness just… is. In those moments, Florence is right. It’s extremely uneventful, but also extremely pleasant and something I can then sit into with ease.

This morning I was shoveling snow, and noticed that if I went the right speed pushing the snow across the driveway, it created a sort of wave/ripple effect radiating out a few inches in front of the shovel as the snow compacted together and sheared away in layers. For whatever reason, I was in a state of mind to notice that and find beauty and meaning in it.

Of course, that’s not always the case, for me or for you or anyone else, I suspect. I know from years of experience that being in the dark swampy mire of depression can render everything I’ve just said above a laughable, alien idea. I would imagine there are other things that would keep someone from finding this mode of being attainable.

But I hope, if you’re able, just for a moment, you’ll choose to find happiness in enjoying the passage of time.

Revisions fart