Don’t worry about being happy – feeling okay is good enough

This statement isn’t going to blow your mind – in fact, it may not even wheeze on it to any significant degree.

But I think I’m content.

That’s no small thing – not in today’s societal stew of selfishness, intolerance and deranged one-upmanship.

Serve that broth with lashings of corporate-sponsored envy, a side order of sour grapes and then over-salt the whole thing with sensory-deadening threats wafting from every orifice.

Suddenly the dish is less appetising than Piers Morgan in a candy-floss thong.

So why am I content?

Why am I even – on occasion – happy?

After all, the whole world feels like the first five minutes of a Mad Max movie (America’s already got a mutant in charge with crazy hair and skin the colour of flat Irn Bru – next stop dystopia) as the mightiest nations on earth move their chess pieces and trade barbed Tweets.

Local, national and international – there’s a bogeyman for all occasions and political persuasions – a platoon of them to keep us all up at nights and asleep during the day.

Add into that mix my own personal propensity for guilt, anxiety, self-laceration and the compulsive need to over-analyse everything, then my opening gambit seems to suggest I’m either living in denial or I’ve gone the full Gary Busey.

Neither actually – I’ve just decided enough is enough.

When it comes to worrying about worrying – like Jack Burton in Big Trouble in Little China, I’ve paid my dues.

My contentment has been hard-earned – forged after 42 years, marriage, two children, a vasectomy, broken unfulfilled dreams, a steady career and enough commitments to keep a Dublin soul band stocked for centuries. 16593654_696245253870181_1017973946_o-1

The key, for me, was acceptance.

I’m obsolete … and it’s rather glorious.

In nature’s eyes I’m a fax machine with no plug – deader than Ceefax.

But here’s the rub – and it’s a lovely rub – obsolescence is also a freedom.

I don’t mean you stop caring – you just stop worrying – particularly about worrying. That obsessive, post-on-Facebook, sit rocking in the darkness, deleterious kind of worrying that achieves nothing, but hurts like hell.

I’m done with it because I’ve realised it’s all the same thing – a thought that has ridden me like a demented Piggott throughout my adulthood:

There has to be more than this.

Newsflash – there isn’t. Not for me at least.

This is it.

And “it” is pretty bloody good.

We fill up our days and weeks and months and years with stuff – work, sleep, children, religion, books, movies, music, drugs, wreck-the-hoose juice, sex, sport – in the vain hope that in among the nutty slag is the occasional pearl. A moment of magic here, a glimpse of ecstasy there, a brief flash of peace.

Society demands that we pursue happiness 24/7 – fuelled by a desperate craving to consume which would embarrass a greedy Xenomorph.

Here’s an idea – maybe we forego being happy-at-all-costs for a bit – just settle for not being angry or sad … and not making people around us angry or sad.

Perhaps not being a bastard to ourselves and other people is an answer.

Yes, there are all sorts of reasons why getting older is rubbish: weird aches and pains, and noises – strange noises – groans and pops and whimpers and grinding things.

It’s like a wife-swapping party at the Krankies’ house.

You try going to sleep when your whole body feels like a bagful of arthritic spanners slowly falling down the stairs.

But I’m happy – happier than I was anyway.

It’s not lessons learned – I’m still as clueless as I ever was – more likely it’s akin to that feeling you get when you realise you’re more than halfway through a movie.

Okay it’s not been great all the way through – parts haven’t made sense, there’s no real plotline, it’s been more funny peculiar than funny ha-ha – but you’re more than halfway there and some of it was entertaining with some decent characters.

Might as well stick around and see how it pans out.

Of course, I’m painfully aware that this column has been one long, privileged-white-male, first-world-problems bleat.

It’s easy to say ‘stop worrying’ when you don’t have life-shredding armaments gatecrashing your home without invite or a target on your back because of the skin you’re in.

All I can say is that I’m trying to stop worrying about worrying – and it’s working.

Some level of anxiety is inevitable – I’ve got medical-grade OCD and more neurosis than the four-eyed love-child of Larry David and Woody Allen – but that doesn’t mean I need to wallow in it.

You won’t see me skipping down the street like a Fluoxetine-flavoured extra in La La Land any time soon, but neither will you see me weeping in a corner.

I’ve called a truce.

The big worry now though …what am I going to do with all this free time when I’m not worrying?

 

Song of the blog: Malcolm Middleton – A Brighter Beat 

@alanmuir74 

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