We need to disembark from the desperate need to be happy. We've been misled in this "pursuit of happiness," when it is really a pursuit of wholeness that we are thirsty for. It is the pursuit of happiness that leads us to fill up any quiet moment, and sends us flailing when faced with any loneliness. We fill space and time with noise and bodies, it mimics the idea that we might not be alone. It is the pursuit of happiness that tells us that "we will be happier if...", and fill in the blank: "We will be happier if we were skinnier." "We will be happier if we have more money." "We will be happier if we wear these uncomfortable shoes." It is the pursuit of happiness that leads us to cut ties with anything that is not currently serving us. Who are we to think everything should conspire for our contentment? Who are we to think we deserve a free walk? Who are we to think we are exempt from sweat on our brow and dirt on our feet? We do this in a relationship when we end it because it gets hard, we do this professionally when we feel we're not seen or heard, we do this in the coffee shop line when the barista is taking too long.
It is however in the pursuit of wholeness that we learn to quiet ourselves and listen hard: listen intently and urgently to what ignites our hearts; listen intently and urgently to those who have gone before us and know how it's done; listen intently and urgently for opportunities to participate in something wild and reckless, that will erupt our bodies in savage laughter.
It is in the pursuit of wholeness that we learn to sit in our mistakes: we learn to sit in the discomfort without fidgeting and so quickly trying to adjust and change; we learn to sit with those who slowly talk about everything or nothing, who slowly walk wherever they're going (or go nowhere), who slowly learn, and we learn how to love them through it anyway; we learn how to sit on the windless water, under a blaring sun that blisters the skin on our shoulders, not rowing, but waiting for hours and days for the wind to come.
It is in the pursuit of wholeness that we learn to honor our loneliness: we honour our loneliness by not trying to change it, by welcoming it in like a weary traveler looking for shelter, we honour it by accepting it, and by accepting it, learning that in loneliness there is too a gift, of discovering your own Self as your friend.
And it is the pursuit of happiness that, when we go to the water, tempts us to shout to the sea "I will learn to tame you!". It is the pursuit of wholeness that brings us to sit on the edge of the shore, and accept our tiny stature in comparison to its vast expanse, and not be shaken by the fact that we could so easily be swallowed up forever with just the slightest brush of the ocean's hand.