Baseline

by Jon Sullivan - 2023-09-23 - Jonism

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Our two year journey to deconstruct and understand the concept of existential happiness is over. So what have we found?

During my hermit years in San Diego I created a life style for myself that eliminated all of the unhappiness I'd been dealing with for decades. All of it. It was a hermit solution. I finally worked out how to lock out all the pain and loneliness and shame and recriminations and self castigation. But the solution was to fully withdraw from society and never be around people. I loved it. And for a long time the comfort of being the only person in my world worked great. But perhaps....... perhaps the universe abhors that sort of vacuum. And without me being open to it, or seeking it, or wanting it at all, happiness started to somehow get through the walls and invade my mind. I felt possessed. Possessed by happiness, for the first time in my life.

No..... That's not correct. It wasn't happiness. It was joy. Pure uncontrollable and unstoppable joy. Joy so powerful that I didn't know what it was. Joy so powerful that I called friends and family to tell them I might be insane, please help me. I may have pissed off a few people with it.

"Seriously!!?? Do you know the shit I'm dealing with right now!!?? And you are seriously calling me to complain about how happy you are!!??? What help are you even asking for? Do I take you to the ER and tell the nurse you are having a troublesome bout of happiness?"

I've told the story many times. I was so happy I could only call it magic. I saw magic, I felt magic, I made my best effort to understand magic. It was a journey. And now the journey is over. And the magic is gone. I just feel like plain ol' Jon now.

I'm still happy. I'm just not crazy anymore. The voices have stopped, the hallucinations have stopped. The magic has stopped.

It doesn't matter. The purpose and motivation of it all remains the same. Go have adventures. Take wonderful photos. Eat yummy food. We don't worry about it. It's fine. All back to normal. Nothing to be concerned about.

Still..... Two years of meditating on the nature and value and purpose of happiness and joy. What did I learn? I learned that happiness has a transactional value. You can give and receive happiness. I learned that happiness exists in an ever changing context, where it might seem that happiness is chained to the context, and that many times the context will impede or thwart happiness. Might seem. But I learned that is wrong. I learned happiness is always possible, you just need to be open to it, even if it's crazy. Even if it's hard to see. I learned you can architect joy on tap, so that you have a happy place to go to. I learned that it's okay to be happy. Even crazy happy. I found that the pain and suffering of the human condition can live side by side with happiness.

Obviously sometimes that's not true. If your brain chemistry is bad-crazy you are probably not going to architect a healthy good-crazy. I get that.

I get that, and I try to ALWAYS remember I have some "human condition" advantages that others don't. I'm privileged. I'm not a mom trying to raise a loving child in a country mostly motivated by hate. I'm not trying to overcome the crippling grief of loss and cancer and death. I'm no longer haunted by the demonic voices of self-doubt and failure. I'm not living under the constant fear that mindless depression will return. I'm not having to confront a world that is literally and currently making my innocent love illegal. Of course those things don't make me happy. They make me very very sad. I get that.

I've written about my happiness journey and meditations here in heavy and abstruse detail. You have listened to it for years. So..... you tell me. What have we learned?

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