- Andrew Lewis
SUNNY MORNING READING D.H. LAWRENCE
A cool breeze, sunshine through the window and quiet walls all around.
The story I am reading is 'The Fox'.
" The more you reach after the fatal flower of happiness, which trembles so blue and lovely in a crevice just beyond your grasp, the more fearfully you become aware of the ghastly and awful gulf of the precipice below you, into which you will inevitably plunge, as into the bottomless pit, if you reach any further. You pluck, flower after flower -- it is never THE FLOWER. The flower itself - its calyx is a horrible gulf, it is the bottomless pit.
That is the whole history of the search for happiness, whether it be your own or somebody else's that you want to win. It ends, and it always ends in the ghastly sense of the bottomless nothingness into which you inevitably fall if you strain any further."
This is not news. Lawrence is giving eloquent expression to a wisdom as old as human thought. We read this and we know instinctively that we stand in the light of some truth about the human condition. This same light reveals an implicit remedy:
YOU CAN SPEND ALL YOUR TIME AND ENERGY IN RELENTLESS PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS, OR YOU CAN DROP THE STRUGGLE AND JUST BE HAPPY!
We may want to say, 'It's not that easy.' But the happiness IS easy. The difficult part is 'dropping the struggle' . We become addicted to the struggle. We hold on to the spade even though there is nothing that needs digging.
Is our aim happiness always ? Eliminating unhappiness forever? This would be futile. Unhappiness in life is unavoidable.
JUST AS THE RELENTLESS PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS IS COUNTERPRODUCTIVE, THE RELENTLESS AVERSION TO, AND FLEEING FROM UNHAPPINESS IS COUNTERPRODUCTIVE.
Unhappy times and moments will come. We must be there to accommodate them with courage and kindness. By fearing them we feed them. Indulgent pessimism is as unhealthy as indulgent hedonism.
Let's turn from Lawrence to Hermann Hesse. In his beautiful novel 'Gertrude' Hesse writes;
"I no longer made any distinction between pleasure and pain, but one was similar to the other; both hurt and both were precious. Whether my inner life went well or badly, my discovered strength stood peacefully outside looking on and knew that light and dark were closely related and that sorrow and peace were rhythm, part and spirit of the same great music."