When I began my blog I did it as a challenge. Write a thousand words a week, and good or bad, post it. I did it because I needed to. I was feeling sorry for myself and wanted the world (oh, hello Afghanistan, Estonia and Vietnam! How did you stumble on me? Was it just serendipity? And then you stayed?) to know about it. That’s why we blog – we honestly think you want to know about our lives. We tell you about our day, our angels, our shoes, our politics, our children, our dinner and our cats. Life rarely gives us the opportunity to get our thoughts in order, edit them, and delete the stuff that just doesn’t work. It’s therapy. It’s arrogance of course, but it’s therapy.
So, I did it for several weeks. And then as quickly as it came up on me, it went away. I just couldn’t write anything. I had experienced a cataclysmic event: I woke up on September the 8th 2013 with a sudden, overwhelming and unexpected realisation about what had happened to me. I was suffering from happiness.
Now I need to be careful about what I say next. The thing is, that happiness is a bit of a taboo subject. The state of happiness is a source of discomfort for most of us because our comfort is a place where we lack something. We have shops because we can’t just have, we have to want; we have religion because we can’t just be, we have to ask why; we have education because we can’t just stay, we have to develop; we have relationships because we can’t be alone, we have to share. And we can’t be trusted, so we have to be told and we can’t be safe, we have to be protected. Our default position is one of unhappiness and so its absence is something peculiar. And if we claim happiness it’s because we have won the lottery that day or finished the ironing or seen something funny or handed in our homework or got the next series of Breaking Bad, or passed our driving test or bought a dog. So our life of unhappiness is punctuated by exclamation marks of joy.
We mistrust the happy because we see their happiness through our paradigm of scarcity: if you’re happy, what have you got that I haven’t? We uphold realism over positivity because it validates what we lack, and we love it because it stops us from being disappointed. We label those who are happy as smug and deluded, who are simply biding their time until they fall and when they do, which they will, it makes us happy because they’re back in our gang
Well I’m nailing my colours to the mast: I am happy.
That feels better.
I was sad because my marriage was over, I was worried about being 50, single, alone, with no money and a gnat-sized pension. I thought no-one would love me, want me or like me ever again. I was sad because I had wasted twenty years. And yet, here I am, happy. Everything has changed of course since I won the lottery.
Today I am 50 (dammit, tempus fugit, I mean 51), single, have no money and that gnat-sized pension still buzzes past my ear but now of course, I swot it away with my winning lottery ticket. Life no longer holds any fear for me.
The lottery win of course was amazing. When I first realised, I could hardly believe it and had to check and recheck. I asked close friends to look at it and make sure I hadn’t made a mistake, but they sat me down, gave me tea, and said “it’s true, my child. You have definitely got three numbers”
But it’s not just the £10. I know it’s only money, and whilst it gives me freedom of course, it’s also given me time to reflect on everything else that has happened in the last two years that has contributed to this miserable state of joy.
Firstly I’d like to thank Sir Tim Berners-Lee for giving me internet dating. I have met many men. Most of whom I liked. They’ve been intelligent, bonkers, kinky, quiet, noisy, interesting or dull, but unfailingly nice. I have huge affection for them all, even though I hope I never see some of them again. They know who they are and I have already thanked some of them, the memory of which I hope will keep them warm on the long cold nights ahead. And the one who took my face in his hands and told me I was beautiful, well, I’ll marry you. (But as we speak there is a large spider in the sink and I’m going to wait and see how you handle that before I commit to any conspicuous demonstration of gratitude)
Next I’d like to thank my friends. I didn’t realise how much they meant to me until I needed them. They have given me their homes, their food, their love, their advice, their holidays, their unneeded household items and their own family and friends. And to those that gave me no advice at all, I particularly want to thank you. You have no idea how much your failure to tell me what to do has helped.
I must thank my family. Whilst I wasn’t looking my child grew up and took care of me, and with with characteristic generosity of spirit got married just so I could have the best time of my life. My mother has delayed senility long enough to make sure I’m OK, and my brother has averted many a hazardous home improvement related death.
I can’t leave without thanking my bank. Each time you give me money, you ask if I want advice with that, and whilst I always decline your kind words, I know it is offered with good intent. Each month you gently remind me that money isn’t everything, and yet, like a plucky little trooper, you still valiantly attempt to pay all my bills for me. We both know it’s futile, but I love you for trying. I’ll be honest, I won’t be depositing my £10 with you. I know you’ll understand, and anyway, we both know how little that money really means.