” Unhappy men are all alike. Some wound they suffered long ago, some wished denied, some blow to pride, some kindling spark of love put away by scorn – or worse indifference – cleaves to them, or they to it, and so they live each day within a shroud of yesterdays. The happy man does not look back. He doesn’t look ahead. He lives in the present.
But there’s the rub. The present can never deliver one thing: meaning. The ways of happiness and meaning are not the same. To find happiness, a man need only live in the moment; he need only live for the moment. But if he wants meaning – the meaning of his dreams, his secrets, his life – a man must reinhabit his past, however dark, and live for the future however uncertain. Thus nature dangles happiness and meaning before us all, insisting only that we choose between them. ” (The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld)
I interpret the word insisting on above quotation as an implication that even though nature may “insist” for us to choose between HAPPINESS and MEANING, it does not mean that it’s “impossible” for us to have both.
I think that I cannot “always” have both HAPPINESS and MEANING at the same time but as long as I can find MEANING in my life, I know I’ll find HAPPINESS there too “at certain times” no matter how brief or long it lasts.
I know I am happy whenever I make a piece of art simply because I enjoy doing it…but what does that mean? It means…
– not having enough time for other things which may affect my relationship with others because they don’t understand my passion (this includes taking time to make something that is not actually paid for…some people with regular paying jobs just don’t understand that).
– giving people more reasons to criticize me.
– putting my ideas at risk because I cannot be an artist by just locking myself in a room drawing all day. Sharing art in the real word is, indeed, “a double edge sword.”
– doubting myself and my artistic abilities because, the truth is, I am not the “best artist” in the world (if there is such a person as “art is subjective”). I am not ashamed to admit that as I know for a fact that there are a lot of great artists out there (living or dead).
– always having the fear of “failing” at what I’ve always thought I am born to do in this world.
Despite all this, if I must choose, I’ll choose MEANING as I’m certain that I cannot totally “just” be happy. I believe, just like any other feelings ( e.g. sadness, grief, etc.), HAPPINESS too shall pass…it always does. MEANING, on the other hand, is definite as it gives us purpose…the reason to live “no matter what”. I would rather know that there is a meaning for ALL the things I’ve been through in life than to be a happy person by ignoring my past that I cannot “just” forget.
However, though I choose MEANING, I don’t live in the present “entirely” for the benefit of my future because for all I know I may die today. I honestly do not desire a longer life. I just want to “live” the life I’m given by learning from my past and doing the best I can with what I have until the day I stop breathing (period).