Skip to content

Life’s Too Good

Wall Boxes

I’ve been reflecting lately on how happy I am, and this makes me nervous.

I love my daughter and my wife, my health is fairly good, at work I’m pursuing a line of inquiry which is fresh and exciting to me, I’ve been reading some good books, we’re finally seeing some progress on the greenway, I’m finally making some progress on another long-stalled project, and so on and so forth.

In short, life is good, and this worries me.

The last time I felt this way, it was quickly followed by bad news.

The time before that, bad news.

In both cases, my personal distress was a trivial thing in the big picture, but it sure didn’t feel trivial to me. In both cases, the “bad news” left me feeling shattered and flattened and empty.

By contrast, today I feel full of life and energy; I feel a satisfying depth to my existence; I feel like an integrated whole. I’m far from perfect, and there’s much to be done, but I relish the work.

I’m riding high now, but am I headed toward a fall?

Of course. Of course I am. Nothing lasts forever, and bad things will happen eventually.

So I’m keeping that in mind and just hoping that this good stretch is a long one.

As I reflected on this further, I was struck by a passage in the book I’m reading wherein Arthur Zajonc notes that suffering “is intrinsic to a life rightly lived.” After all, I would never shed a tear if I didn’t care for those around me. These bad things would not upset me if I was some kind of heartless robot — but who wants to live like that? Suffering is indeed a part of life, which at times cannot be avoided. The important thing is to cultivate equanimity so that when the crisis inevitably comes, it can be confronted with compassion and reason.

Furthermore, “happiness is really not the goal of life.” It’s a side effect, not an end to itself. I will enjoy it while it’s here, and do my best to reflect what joy I can into the lives of others.

I think the anxiety I expressed above comes from forgetting these essential truths. I am feeling better already.

Published inMiscellaneous


  1. anthony anthony

    Go with it.

    Go with accepting that it can be good. And its not happening by magic cause clearly you are working on things to make your life good.

    Ride the goodness. Time will come when you will glad for the memories of this time, or, even better, the work you do now will forestall or mitigate bad times to come.

    Sounds good Bart. Go with it.

  2. Check! Anthony nails it.

    But this has been running through my head this morning. As a non-theist (or non-Christian, or whatever), the language will be all wrong for you, but here goes… translate into terms that are helpful.

    God created us everyone, with a purpose, a vocation. That happiness you are experiencing is living out your purpose. Blessedly lucky the folks who know who they are and what God intends them to be. Most of us just muck around a lot hoping to not fall into too stickery a rose bush.

    Go with it.

    You’re on your path, you’re finding your way. There lies happiness. Shit happens. You’ll get back to the path when it does. For now, enjoy the ride.

  3. Well I feel weird quoting Dr. Phil [I’ve only seen one or two shows — really!] who was talking to someone who was afraid to be too happy, ‘it’s ok to be happy!’ and stuff and so forth.
    At any rate, I am glad happiness is a side effect, and that it can be a main attraction to any day of the year.

  4. Are you familiar with Harold Kushner’s book, ‘When Bad Things Happen to Good People’? In it he writes:

    “Life can be painful if you do it right. Anyone brave enough to love another person, anyone who loves enough to take onto herself another person’s pain and fear, anyone compassionate enough to feel the pain of all that is wrong with our world, learns how challenging life can be. Sometimes the heart that opens itself to love becomes so overwhelmed with the feelings to which it has made itself vulnerable that it breaks.”

    I think about this all the time, when I find myself unable to balance a state of contentment with the recognition that it won’t last.

  5. Martin Martin

    To be ‘nervous’ about such a state of grace – for that’s what you’re experiencing – is to negate the state of grace. It’s best to just accept it and to be grateful for the experience.

    And to remember it the next time ‘bad news’ arrives.

  6. David David

    FUCK YOU!!!

    OK, now your latest trauma is behind you, and you’re free to resume your happiness.

  7. […] Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)A House in Mid-City Editor B, Mid-City New Orleans213 N Salcedo New Orleans. Louisiana 2006 september 6New Orleans, Louisiana, Bohemian – Plaquemines Parish – Louisiana-22The Limits of the Box Posted by jeffrey lamb Filed in New Orleans, defend new orleans, preservation, shotgun Leave a Comment » […]

  8. Andrea Andrea

    I think the anxiety comes with the end of August. It is always an emotional time, no? It is impossible for me to get through the anniversary without feeling anxious.

  9. Grampa Ray Grampa Ray

    As a college freshman taking an English course, I was required to write a thesis on any subject. I chose “Happiness” and quickly learned that it was one of the most popular of all subjects. But I forged ahead and did considerable research. My conclusion, in brief, was that people who stayed busy at worthwhile pursuits tend to be much happier than those who do not stay busy.

  10. Jack Schick Jack Schick

    Make Hay while the Sun Shines…
    How well prepared are you to flee?…
    …or to send the women & kids away for safety…?
    You’re not paranoid to prepare.
    Use your Healthy, Energetic time to make plans…
    how about a fuel-water-food cache about a half-tank drive from
    Nawlins along your escape route? like in a cheap storage locker?
    How about some northwest destination to a safer sanctuary?
    The False ministers will be saying, “peace and security” right up to
    the FINAL moments.
    Jesus said I come not to bring peace, but with a sword.
    My People die from Lack of Knowledge…that’s in Hosea somewhere.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *