Is happiness absence of grief or ability to note the silver linings besides all of those?

BY BRENDA VIOLA

“Are you sure you want to try it?” His question made me think about it for a minute.

Did I want to? On one hand, yes, I wanted to do it. I mean, we only live once and some experiences are so inimitable that they may never present themselves again. So yes! I wanted to fully indulge in this chance.

On the other hand, so much could go wrong. Who knows how my body would react? What would my eulogy say if I finally begin the next phase of my life in such a graceful manner? Do I even know why he is offering? Granted that I had met him for the first time only a few minutes back, it would be borderline stupid to take him up on his offer. Then the bigger question would be, am I stupid enough to take him up on his offer?

I suppose the worst-case scenario would be death and the best-case scenario would be coming out unharmed with memories of yet another exploratory experience. But then again, is death the worst-case scenario? I am a strong believer in the fact that energy can neither be destroyed nor created, only transformed from one form to another. So technically speaking, we never really die, we simply change into other energy forms. So, the worst-case scenario would be something else. Perhaps the horror of living with the unimaginable.

“You have a habit of staying eerily quiet.” His words zapped me back to reality. Rudely if I may, granted that I was yet to make my decision.

“Are you sure that I won’t die?” We are all doubting Thomas at one point in life.

This instance seemed justified. Something didn’t sit right with imagining my mother receiving a call from the police or hospital informing her of her dead child. But that was assuming that I had any type of identification with me. I checked my purse just in case.

Nobody likes an unidentifiable dead body, at least that’s what the investigators in serial killer documentaries say. My national ID and bank card were with me, so that was identification enough. Needless to say that if I die, then they could identify me and bury me within a week. With COVID going around, there won’t be a lot of people at my funeral. Which is a good thing, I wouldn’t want everyone to know I died from a drug overdose.

He opened the lights in the room, reminding me that I was the only woman in the room, with men whom I wouldn’t necessarily call scary, but I knew society dabbed them gangsters’ eons back. His eyes dilated, adjusting to the brighter lighting in the room.

“Unless you overdo it, I don’t see the reason why you would die.” He responded with a serious face, as serious as he could get anyway, considering his present condition.

At that point, I realized I had made my decision. If I died then my mother would find me within a few days, I hoped. If I didn’t then maybe I would live? Who knows, the future is full of surprises. He closed the lights once more, probably because he was struggling to keep his eyes open because of the bright light. I didn’t mind, if anything, it gave me the general concept of time. From the window, I saw it was bright outside, around noon, assuming my Girl Guide lessons were beginning to pay off.

“Here, you can drink water too.”

If anything, my body temperature significantly reduced, and the shivers started. I couldn’t decide whether I was anxious or it had kicked in. He continued talking, something about living life to the fullest. I zoned him out, he was talking too much for my liking. I just needed some quiet and calmness. He said that I would feel lighter so that was something I was looking forward to.

“Are you okay?” He probably realized that I wasn’t responding to his words.

At this point, I was done trying to figure out whether he was harmless or he was trying to take advantage of me. A low chuckle escaped me and he too responded with a chuckle. It quickly escalated to loud fits of laughter.

Was I okay? Another voice laughed, only this time, it was in my head. Of course, I wasn’t fine! It was only a few minutes back that I was checking to see if I have identification to give whoever will find me dead an easier time in identifying my body. Did I want to die? Probably not. We are all so accustomed to saying rest in peace after someone dies, what if there is no peace? Even worse, because we don’t entirely die, what is to assure us that the pain and suffering we carry while alive will suddenly vanish once we transform into other forms? What if you just carry your soul from one reality to the other, with the same emotions and perspectives? If any of that is true then no, I did not want to die! If anything, I wanted some peace. I wanted to die happy. I don’t know if that was something to die for or to live for, maybe both.

“Are you happy?” I turned to him. It wasn’t an ideal conversation to have, but I genuinely wanted to know.

He seemed shocked at my question. I could see his eyes as he searched for an answer, words that would accurately describe his state.

“I think it simply depends on your definition of happiness.”
I had never really looked at it from that perspective. What is your definition of happiness? Is it the absence of grief, pain, and suffering, or the ability to note the silver linings besides all of those?
“And I know this may sound insensitive, but I think happiness is a choice. When you think about it, life will always be filled with problems, pain, and suffering. However, it is through the devastation and lack of hope that we realize happiness when we find it.”

Telling anyone with depression that happiness is a choice is a bit insensitive, I have to agree with him on that note. It’s almost as effective as telling anyone hungry that they hunger no more. Nonetheless, in some way, he is correct. Happiness is a choice, it’s just that for some, making the choice is a bit difficult.

“I think I need a bucket.” Well, whatever I took was working all right. I wanted to throw up whatever I had taken earlier.
“It is kicking in now.” He said lightheartedly as he handed me a bucket.

As I hurled my guts out I wondered how many times he had done that. Given a bucket to a hopeless girl who was probably overdosing on some illegal drug. Another wave of hurl hit me and I decided I couldn’t think anymore. Perhaps this was it. Maybe it’s fair that they are illegal.

“Drink some water, it’ll be over soon.”

At that point, he would have given me poison and I would have drunk it. As I said, there is a reason why they are called illicit drugs. Suddenly my primary school knowledge finally made some sense. Not the a2 + b2 = c2, no! Who knows why we needed to learn that in school? The knowledge I am talking about is how drugs impair judgment. Blessed be my science teacher, wherever she may be. Mayhap if we were taught happiness is a choice in school, I would have better coping mechanisms. What is “the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell” to a depressed soul?

“Don’t we worry, we all go through it at some point, I don’t even think there’s anyone who can give a clear map showing you the journey out of it, but you will get there,” he said on a more serious note.

A large part of me wanted to laugh, and so I did. Not that his words could give Njugush a run for his money, but because at this point I was beyond tears. His words cut a little bit too close to home, not that I was doing much to hide it anyway. I heard, after all, taking who knows what with a man I met a few hours ago.

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