"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates

- - scatterings of ideas sent to my younger self, a sensitive girl who was fooled into believing she was a boy because of anatomy - -

Wednesday 20 August 2014

The Pursuit of Happiness

A Buddhist monk approaches a hot dog stand and says "Make me one with everything".

This past week and this as well, sweetie and I are on holiday taking a break from routine and work. It makes us happy, at least this is what the lovely Mrs H says. She teaches me so much. Not intentionally of course, but in this case by modelling the extremes of a cycle we all fall into as humans.

Much of human existence, at least the part not preoccupied by survival (not the television programme), might seem to be distilled down to that very American phrase 'the pursuit of happiness'. It is likely that scholarly essays exist on this idea. It is not my intention to add to that body here, but simply to reflect that for me the traditional idea of happiness seemed too strongly connected to possessions or ownership or control, all things that had little attraction in the past and almost zero attraction now. 

For so long I was certain real happiness existed, but had eluded me. Contentment seemed to be what I could settle for; the knowledge that I was doing the best I could under sometimes impossible circumstances. I knew something that would make me happy; to be fully female.

It is clear to me now that gender congruence alone does not create happiness. One might say it removes an impediment. I know that for some, that life path is the only viable one. After, one moves on and the challenges of life return. Happiness is not the automatic result.

My attempts here to understanding my dual nature, my queerness some would say, has lead me to wonder what there is to cherish, if not happiness.

Watching my sweetie, it seems to me that the 'happiness search' is a cycle that involves analysing the present situation followed by planning for something 'better'. An inability to live in the moment then sabotages the very goal of happiness, as this wonderful thing we plan takes place and moves into the past, regret follows and the planning for the next happy occasion begins.

For me this trip away from home with my sweetie is about moments to savour. Worldly moments yes. Good food. Beautiful scenery. Friends to visit.... Those sorts of things. I have enjoyed it so far, and look forward to relaxing with books, but this issue of happiness wants to be explored first. 

If happiness exists, it lies elsewhere and absorption with moments of joy almost seems to get in the way. That cannot be right. If we instead assume that happiness is an illusion, replacing the cycle of planning and waiting with something more fulfilling, just what does that look like?

As I sit on the sandy beach looking out at the water sparkling blue under an August sun, Aadi slowly materialises, as though in her way she is trying to sneak up. "Interesting thoughts you are having there. Maybe you will put this into one of your blog posts?" 
I never know how she will look in these dreamtime meetings, but somehow I always know it is her. "I've been pondering, yes." A butterfly came toward us from a long trip over the water and landed on her outstretched hand. "Something you are wondering about. Ask, Halle" 
"Is it fair to say that from your point of view happiness is meaningless Aadi?"
She placed her free hand above the butterfly like a shelter.
"In what you would call this moment my consciousness is here with you, and also consoling another Halle who transitioned thirty of your years ago and cannot imagine how she can carry on without her partner of twenty five years.  As I tell you this, I am with yet another version of you who just died in a mysterious car crash and is trying to figure out why he still is conscious and can see his dead body and mourning family gathered. These are just three of an infinite number of 'places' I am engaged in 'at the moment'. My perspective is *different* shall we say." 
She had a glint in her eyes as she told me that last part. I was about to suggest that she really didn't have time for me because I wasn't in any sort of trouble, when she interrupted the thought. "It is all about perspective you see. Isn't this a beautiful day Halle?" 
As I was about to answer clouds darkened and rain fell so hard I could just barely see the lightning flash that preceded the thunder by only a second. Just as quickly the clouds parted and sun was shining again. Aadi raised her hand, and the butterfly perched on her finger flapped it's wings and fluttered off.
"A beautiful day indeed Aadi". 
" From a certain perspective, mine, happiness is replaced by joy. Joy for the knowing that nothing in life is wasted. Everything you or any of your uncountable incarnations does adds to our totality.
Your acceptance that both female and male reside within is part of a new perspective. It is part of our joy Halle.
The fact that you are here with me on a day when there is no crisis to deal with tells me something of your perspective, and it is a good thing. You know that as long as you live there will be hard times when it will be difficult to remember this moment and this way of seeing the world. Come back to it as often as you can my dear. "

I am left with the question about happiness. Somehow it seems that this pursuit is no more or less valuable in life than any other. 
Love yourself 


  1. This is just to say that I have been here. Your post deserves more than a passing comment, so give me a little time: I'll be back.

  2. Happiness for me Halle is Jesus shaped. I find that I can remain happy in all and every circumstance. You are right that happiness is found elsewhere. That 'elsewhere' isn't found in the material world.

    Shirley Anne x

    1. When Love came to earth
      Thanks Shirley Anne

  3. Happiness! I have to say that I cannot remember ever courting that elusive state, but then childhood, and a later failed marriage, did nothing to inspire such a courtship. In fact, if people ever claimed to be happy, I usually wondered what the hell they were talking about. It clearly wasn't something to be studied in my syllabus.

    It is probably true to say that happiness found me, and did so as a result of some very serious work on my inner self. You say that gender congruence alone was not enough, but I suspect that - in common with all genuine spiritual work - that investigation had the effect of opening your inner eyes so that you were able, as I was, to see the world more closely to a state of reality. Once that happens, it opens an inner gate that allows an upswelling of this experience we call happiness. It is a gift, a grace.

    Happiness seems to me to be the ocean undercurrent of a psycho-spiritually healthy life, whilst joy is the frothy excitement of waves. Joy comes and goes in its season, but happiness lasts. It is like the paint pigment, phthalocyanine blue, a gorgeous colour which affects and stains everything in its environment. Once you become aware of it, you never really lose it. Of course it may get covered over once in a while, but then comes the joy of re-emergence.

    1. Tom, I love the thought that we find happiness as reality revealed; once seen never forgotten.
      What a beautiful analogy of the sea with a playful surface over a steady gentle body of water with those undercurrents.

      Perhaps then an artist might say happiness, like an awareness of God paints the background while brilliant joyful colours of daily challenges livening the foreground.

  4. Hi Halle,
    I do think the pursuit of happiness is overrated, but I think we can link happiness to love. That is an acceptance of one’s fate that paradoxically allows one to live life to the fullest, in the moment as you say-without regrets. Here is a little poem I attempted. Best wishes

    Happiness, is this from love?
    is this a joyful soul’s delight?
    A sprits light, love of fate,
    Does grace impart?
    As fears depart !

    1. Love of fate ~ fearless acceptance of this life with all its challenges... Happiness

      Many thanks for your words Lindsay. The economy of fine poetry always amazes me.

  5. Hi Halle,

    It's been a very long time since responding to anyone's blog, but I have not left the arena.

    I only wanted to say that I, like Shirley Anne, subscribe to the same source for my happiness. Without the Lord in my (and my Sweetie's) life, we would be lost in this world.

    I want to find the time to write to you about goings-on in my life now. Some big changes...to say the least.

    Love and prayers always,

    Cynthia Jane XX

    1. Cynthia and Shirley too, I rejoice that your search brought you to happiness along a path that I found somewhat barren. Not to say that Jesus' message was lost on me. Yet perhaps it was some flaw in me that forced me to seek the spirit of God outside organised religion. Let me suggest that the absence of a Book of Jesus in the bible and a succession of experiences that conflicted with what Jesus' teachings appeared to be was part of that.
      Perhaps part of passing through that inner gate Tom write about and the happiness experienced now is knowing that there are indeed many rooms and many paths to those rooms in God's house.

      Looking forward to a follow up email from you Cynthia to hear more about those changes.
      xx Halle

  6. Halle I think that what we need to strive for is contentment. After all, life is naturally rigged to be full of problems. If we expect that its just part of the package and learn to navigate the land mines more gracefully and more philosophically then we will be happier for it!!

    1. life is naturally rigged to be full of problems.
      So true! Having the grace to accept those problems as happily as we accept the joys is the challenge of finding true happiness. Thanks Joanna

  7. I've heard it's a warm puppy... but I like your take on it as well. :D

    Lovely post as always, Halle!


    1. Cass you have me giggling thinking about Charlie Brown with Snoopy covering him with sloppy doggy kisses! Thanks girlfriend! :-D

  8. I'm sitting here not knowing if I am happy or not. To me H is something like my breath in/out - comes and goes - happy to see you/sorry that you are so unwell -
    it seems to be all in one - to be alive.
    Did not take time to think much, need to rush out.

    1. Ellena, I am so glad you had no time to think, since what you write is perfect, and clear.
      Like my breath
      Comes and goes
      Happy to see you
      Sorry that you are so unwell.

      Thanks to Roderick for pointing out that you quite naturally write poetry my dear friend.

  9. Thank you all so much. As Tom wrote you deserve a reply that is well thought out and I promise that will come for each of you. Oh the sacrifices we must make when on holiday! Off hiking. :-)