It is a given that all humans live in pursuit of happiness! We all want to be happy, with ourselves, our loved ones and our families. We want to enjoy life, and always wish the best for ourselves. None of us wishes to be bonded to pain, sadness or misery.
Our pursuit of happiness manifests itself in different forms. Self-help books, filled with “lessons on becoming/staying happy”. Shrinks in form of psychologists, psychiatrists, religious prophetesses and prophets, guidance counselors and friends, all remind us how worthy of happiness we are. Lest we forget the “Happy Singer” Pharrell Williams, whose “happy” has ‘infected’ every corner of the world, including places amidst chaos and war. Fitness and body weight loss programs restore and build our happiness, as are TV, video and radio and plenty of other entertainment disposable to make us happy. Implicitly, Happiness is the ultimate measure of personal freedom; sadness the worst form of human living, which should be avoided at all costs!
Perhaps we are all wrong! That sadness is after all not fatal, not miserable and not undesirable. Perhaps there is freedom in suffering? Freedom to liberate, to take time off the world’s absurdities into oneself. Time to reflect and rejuvenate oneself, time to ponder over one’s failures, disappointments and hurtful moments, then recreate success, satisfaction, love and happiness. Through suffering, we might find the strength to claim our space in an unfamiliar, unjust and uninviting world. We might stop being voiceless by finding our voice, or among others concerned about their plight. We might also find the creativity to rebuild our lives and reclaim economic, political and social security for ourselves and loved ones. We might create our bubble of happiness, false or real, longterm or short-lived.
Here, I am thinking of Gays and Lesbians, very often living as outlaws in many societies, but are able to find avenues for self-expression. Transforming alienation, antagonism and ostracism they face into spaces to display of themselves to the ‘unsuspecting’ public through art, spoken word, activism, performance, dressing and festivities. Through disobedience they are transforming their suffering into freedom from confinement in the ‘underground’/‘unseen’ world into outer space.
Battered and abused spouses, as well, find freedom in suffering, through silence or disobedience against demands of their abusive spouses. For some, sexual intercourse is the channel for release their suffering at the hands of abusive spouses for a ‘momentary’ moment(s) of enjoyment. Sexual intercourse transpositions them into a world away from their sadness, reconnecting with their inner most desires and blissfulness. Others find freedom in infidelity with ‘lovers’, one-off strangers or sex workers. Married men buy prostitutes to satisfy their sexual infatuation. Overtime, some of the transactions transcend mere sexual encounter, as the sex worker becomes a listening ear and shoulder to cry on about their marital woes, an avenue to release oneself freely, a source of ‘free’ marriage counseling and education in sexual intimacy. Married women also take on lovers or boyfriends for sexual satisfaction, and to feel desired, adored and youthful again.
Even the unemployed find freedom in suffering a financial loss and job insecurity. The mind is released from the daily demands of a work-life to wander off into places of sadness to imagination to creativity. The loss and pain that often comes with unemployment also avails one more time to think, invent, regain the courage to rebuild oneself, and recreate one’s freedom, through a new employment elsewhere, or by creating own employment.
Drug addicts unleash their pain and suffering through drugs, even if its a few minutes of ‘make-believe’ happiness. I have learned that crack cocaine users ultimately become addicted in a search for “that first high”, that can never be attainable again. They just want to relieve that moment of no fear, wild happy feelings and flying high in the cloud.
Ultimately, even in the most suffering comes moments of freedom for all of us. Moments when we would rather not be disturbed by any offers of love, attention or comfort from outside ourselves. When we all resort to the power within us to overcome suffering and define and recreate our freedom on our terms.