Happiness Is a Mixed Bag

Hey everybody! How are you? I'm doing great, thanks so much for asking, it's sweet of you. And yes, this IS a new sweater. What did you say? I look smart in it? Good, good, I'd hoped I might, and thanks again for saying so. I know it's not prudent to wear a sweater in July but I just bought it, I like it, and darn it, I look good in it. And I'm glad you think so too.

All blathering nonsense aside, I'm actually quite happy right now. Which is... odd. I don't mean to say I'm never, or even seldom happy. It's more that, well, it's summer, and I'd come to expect  summer necessarily brought with it boredom, anxiety, loneliness, or some combination of the three. Forgive my melodrama, but last summer ranked among my worst, and this one was shaping up to rival it. I'd begun to feel distant from the friends I'd been aching to see for the whole last year, which was made all the worse for the fact that, in spite of my better judgment, I'd allowed myself to make plans, and have expectations about how the summer might go. I was even homeless for a couple days, as bizarre as it sounds. Sure, things got pretty heavy, as it seems they are wont to do in my muddled little life, but by the grace of God, I'm experiencing, at least for the moment, some peace. I'm happy.

And I've been thinking (a dangerous pastime, I know), and my thinking is this: I very seldom, if ever, write when I'm happy. Writing is a profoundly therapeutic exercise for me, so I, more often than not, write when I'm hurting, or confused, or lost, or lonely, and it helps a great deal. On top of that, the few times I've attempted to write songs or blog posts when I wasn't in the midst of some existential crisis or another, I found what few paragraphs and lines I could squeeze out to be cutesy and inauthentic. I'm not sure why that might be. Angst fuels the creative flames, I suppose. 

It's not such a bad thing either. If writing and drawing are what I need to cope when I'm stuck in a trough, then I ought to just stop and thank God for designing humans so elegantly, a species designed to take solace in art when the world becomes too painful to bear. A major downside to this bittersweet arrangement, though, is if I only ever write when I'm emotionally damaged, then my acquaintances out there in the blogosphere will never get to know the happy-go-lucky Jordan who walks the earth far more often than the mopey one, even if he doesn't write as much. It's a bum deal, but Happy Jordan (henceforth to be referred to as HJ) is unapologetic. He will not trade in his happiness for inspiration (I'm switching back to first person because I'm not sure why I switched over in the first place). I can't lament my lack of artistic motivation if the cause is my life is too quiet and satisfactory at the moment to be touched by the profundity of pain. And what a fool I would be to complain about such a thing.

So we've established I lose the will to create when life feels all warm and fleecey (not unlike a Snuggie), and I've made my peace with it, truly. The only real issue I'm left with is these happy times, should they last too long, pose a rather mammoth threat to one of my major aspirations. I'm not sure how open I am about this, or if it's even necessary to point out to those READING my BLOG, but I want to write, not necessarily for a living, but certainly for pleasure. It's one of the few things I know about my future. And one does not become a writer by ignoring the craft for such long stretches of time simply because one's life has lost its dramatic edge. Writers must write. They must, as a matter of discipline, sit down on a regular basis and say whatever there is to say, because if they don't, the muscles will shrink and shrivel and they'll only be capable of writing such meandering thoughts as you see before you now. And that, friends, is why you are reading a post I've written about how I can't write. I apologize if that thought alone traps you in a logical loop from which you never re-emerge.

I'd set out to write this blog about how I can't write or draw when I'm happy, and that's why I decided to give it the title "Happiness Is a Mixed Bag," but it occurs to me now what a dumb title it is. Happiness is a gift. It's a temporary, elusive gift, but it's a gift all the same. Joy is different, because joy sticks to your ribs, like oatmeal. Joy is what keeps you going, what makes you want to keep living, and it's made up of all those beautiful things like hope and love and peace. Joy is knowing where we stand in the scheme of God's kingdom, and such assurance is resolute. Happiness is less so. It is Chinese food. But Chinese food tastes darn good and I'll fight to the death any man who disagrees. Happiness in this life is God's gift of Chinese food. 

I'm happy right now, and it tastes good, like an egg roll, and I'm honestly not so concerned about whether or not this will be the most emotionally profound post I've ever written. I'm happy and I want people to know it. I want to shout from the rooftops that my God has been good to me. And if, come tomorrow, a tornado swoops down and carries off everyone and everything I love, I pray to the God who knows what He or She is doing I will have strength enough to live in joy.

I've tried to write a more upbeat post a few times before now, but without fail some character-building disaster knocks me off my high horse. Praise God I've been in a good place long enough to type this out. Life can be abusive, but know, Stranger, our God is good, even and especially when life isn't. And know that I know, even when I wear a short-sighted frown. And read Anne Lamott. That is all.

Those who sow with tears 
    will reap with songs of joy. 

Psalm 126:5


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