I awakened slowly, still adrift in the near total darkness of the room. I noticed an uncharacteristic undertone of unease. I wished my lover was not away on a business trip. I needed physical closeness. Instead, I climbed out of bed to start the day.
I glanced at the thermometer and saw 49 F on the display. I knew I had to have my coffee outdoors so I could experience the unique, cool summer morning. It wasn’t quite 4:00 as I sat on my porch steps. I noticed the Big Dipper in the sky but decided not to intellectualize about it. Then, an ambulance siren from the west broke the spell.
I remembered that the wee hours of the morning, while peaceful and beautiful, are often tragic. As the siren approached nearer, I wondered if someone was having a heart attack or a stroke. The siren continued on towards the east, then out, past the city limits. Then the sound faded away.
Had someone fallen asleep at the wheel? Was it a terrible collision on the highway? Or, was someone having a medical emergency on a farm out in the countryside? Was somebody near death or already dead?
Was the victim instantly killed? Did he experience that he was on the brink of death? Was he full of fear? Did he have time to consider the quality of his life? If so, was it a superficial life? Was it a satisfactory life? Was he happy, overall?
We all search for happiness and comfort. We seek it in many ways. The evidence is found in the layers we have built up around our minds. There are the material things we have acquired as componants of our protective wall. There’s a house or apartment with furnishings and accessories. We might have cars or a truck. We have some sort of wardrobe, either humble or stylish. Maybe we enjoy the company of a pet.
Is there a lover and/or a spouse in your life? Or maybe you have a friend with benefits? Perhaps you are single. We still have some sort of family, maybe your co-workers, friends, and acquaintances are important to you. Do you base your identity on these relationships? Are you comfortable with your sexuality, whatever it is?
We form attachments to ideas and beliefs. We are liberal, or conservative, or libertarian, or go for the anarchist point of view, or we think we are just non-aligned. We are Republican, or Democrat, or Neo Nazi, or Communist, or Green. We are loosely or strongly identified with one of these points of view.
We likely have some portion of our identity based upon or opinions about what we are against. Perhaps we are against foreigners, maybe we disagree with abortion, or we favor the option. We hate gay people, or we are allies with them. We feel discomfort around those who follow a different religious belief than us or those who identify as atheists.
We might choose to affiliate with Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Paganism, New Age Mysticism, aboriginal faith tradition, or one of the other numerous belief systems. Or we don’t identify with any of them at all. We sometimes use the affiliation as a shield or weapon as much as a form of comfort and knowledge.
Practically all of these layers have been invented by human beings. These layers are all temporary. We might not fully realize that we seek satisfaction in these layers. Their impermanent nature causes us sorrow if we are not aware of this fact.
We might take out our frustrations on people we classify as “other”. Political and religious strife is the manifestation of some of this unhappiness. Our discomfort shows up in domestic violence, bullying, sexism, gay-bashing, racism, crime, and all out warfare.
To find our individual sources of happiness and satisfaction, we need to peel back our layers to reveal the cores of ourselves. We must do the work of discovering our inner cores.
Self knowledge is not the destination. Self knowledge is the tool with which we carefully examine each layer that we have grown. The layers to shield us as armor or as buffers to postpone our encounters with ourselves.
The Blue Jay of Happiness wonders if you examine your life’s layers in an honest, compassionate way.