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I don't expect that I will ever be happy for any length of time, and that I'll always have to struggle to find even a few fleeting moments of happiness.
Michael D. Crawford
July 17, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Michael D. Crawford. All Rights Reserved.
Look in my diary and you will see that I am not happy.
It has been suggested to me that if I could find a way to be happy in general, outside of my work, then I would be much happier with the work I have now. And in fact I am finding my work more pleasant now than I did a few months ago.
I have been reading up on how to be happy, and have even been working on an article called What is the Key to Happiness?. I hope to publish it at Kuro5hin when it's ready. But it's not yet. Right now I think it is one of the worst essays I have ever written. Ironically, it is the #1 hit at Google for the query key to happiness, testifying to the difficulty of finding happiness, so difficult that Google judges my pathetic scrawl to be better than anything else available on the web.
I've been taking piano lessons since January, hoping to find happiness in my music. At one time my piano gave me great comfort, but in recent years my playing has stagnated. I've been having a hard time with the lessons. I feel so stupid whenever I try to play anything new, I can play haltingly at best with my fingers stumbling over the keys.
But I've persisted, and have learned to play a few pieces that I really enjoy, that sound richer and more interesting than the simple exercises in my method books. I've started practicing more regularly. I can see how sufferring through the lessons and the clumsy practicing will pay off in that soon I will enjoy the piano again.
Just a couple days ago I started bicycling. My plan is to bicycle for an hour every day. I hope to find some happiness in physical fitness. Possibly the happiest I've ever been was one summer when I had a job at the top of a big hill, and I got there each day on my bicycle. It was awful at first but at the end of the summer I felt great. I lost a lot of weight and looked really good too.
I'm riding on mostly level ground now but will start riding up hills as my condition improves. Once I'm able to comfortably ride each day up the big hill that overlooks Truro, I will join the gym and start lifting weights as well.
I was a gym member a few months ago, only to find that three minutes on the stair machine made me retch. I don't want to have a heart attack. I'm only forty.
My wife tells me that hanging out online all day won't make me happy. She wants me to find things to do that are away from the computer, outside my office. She's been very supportive of my piano lessons, and wildly enthusiastic about my cycling. She even bought me a guitar this last Christmas. I'm learning to play it too, and plan to take guitar lessons in a few months, once I'm more comfortable with the piano.
My wife wants me to find new friends. I protest that sites like Kuro5hin, and the many mailing lists I subscribe to, are my community. But she wants me to find friends I can be with "in real life", not online. I have many friends, even real life ones, but they are all far away because I moved. My isolation was really driven home today. My wife is a wonderful companion for me but today she was away all day, and I hardly spoke to a human soul, save for a few words with the chatty cashier at the grocery store.
My wife is starting art school in the Fall and will be away all day, most days. I am afraid. I'm afraid of becoming completely isolated.
I try to meet new people sometimes but in the presence of strangers I find myself unable to speak. I don't know how I got that way, I'm very comfortable talking to my wife, and my friends when I'm able to see them. I didn't used to be that way. I was long ago, when I was young, but I thought I was long over that.
I'm self-employed as an embedded software consultant. I like it better than the GUI work I used to do, but it is very hard work, very demanding. I'm weary of it. I've been programming for a living for seventeen years. It's very rare that I meet another programmer with that much experience. Most programmers are much younger. Most programmers quit the profession before they get very old. I would have, but I never knew what else to do.
I think sometimes that I would like to write for a living. I like to write, and I write quite a bit. I think I even write well. I'm not too sure how to make the transition though. For now I'll have to continue programming. My wife tells me I should make a long-term plan for my career change, and work towards it steadily, but I've gotten nowhere so far.
I'm well aware that writing for a living presents its own problems.
Finding happiness is harder for me than for most people. I don't expect that I will ever be happy for any length of time, and expect I'll have to struggle to find the few fleeting moments of happiness that I do get to enjoy. I expect that I will always be searching.
I am not happy. Yet I am aware it is within my power to become so.
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