By Joe Klock, Sr.
English writer Samuel Butler held that all animals on earth, except human beings, know that "the principal business of life is to enjoy it."
This would seem to suggest that we'd all be happy as pigs in slop if all our waking moments were crammed with fun, games, wild sex and "all-the-way" pizzas, but that isn't what enjoyment is all about.
To enjoy, according to my fattest dictionary, is to "derive pleasure OR satisfaction" (emphasis added), which makes happiness available to all those, regardless of their circumstances, who can find either or both of these blessings in their lives.
Thus, happiness need not be merely an occasional ray of sunshine in this "vale of earthly tears;" and fun isn't necessarily playing hooky from the real world; and feeling good can be more than a temporary binge, which must necessarily be followed by a hangover of at least equal magnitude.
As a child (back in "the olden days," as designated by my grandpeople) I was led to believe that it was foolish to think we were born to be happy all - or even most - of the time.
I was told by elders, progenitors, pedagogues and preachers that a steady diet of happiness was reserved for life after death, and that life before death was meant to be a holding pattern of mere existence - occasional misfortunes and a few highs, such as birthdays, holidays, honeymoons, vacations, parties and fine wines.
"That's life," I was told. "That's the way it is - mostly tedium, misfortune, controversy, boredom, struggle, apprehension, uncertainty, disappointment and annoying people."
It seemed to me then, and still seems to a lot of unhappy people, that if you weren't born rich and/or attractive and/or lucky and/or brilliant and/or talented and/or a center of attention, you could anticipate at best a humdrum life with only the hereafter to anticipate for kicks.
But, as "Sportin' Life" sang in Gershwin's classic "Porgy & Bess" (with no implied disrespect to the Good Book): "De t'ings dat yo li'ble to read in de Bible, they ain't necessarily so."
If you believe in God, you must believe that you were born to be happy and fulfilled - that you and I, warts and all, are products of God's love, God's caring, and God's desire to bring joy to the world. I can't conceive of any other objective of a loving Creator; nor can I imagine a God who is anything but loving.
One of my pet peeves about traditional Christianity is the pervasive notion that God is some kind of grouch who's just waiting for us to screw something up, like a state cop lurking behind every billboard on the Interstate of life.
I was sixty years old before I saw the first portrayal of a laughing Jesus, and have yet to see one of God the Father so much as cracking a paternal grin!
If you believe that God is love, His characterization as a perennial party-pooper is totally off-target.
If you don't believe in God, please recognize that we humans are the highest order of being in all of nature, and that everything else in the world is here to serve our needs and desires - to be controlled by us and to be used to our advantage - if we play our cards right.
We were all born believing that we were something special; as living proof of this, I've seen nineteen Klock grandbabies and, thus far, four great-grands.
They were all born unaware and unwilling to concede that they were not rich, attractive, lucky, brilliant, talented and the center of attention, or that the principal business of life was not to enjoy it.
Like us, they will have to be taught to believe otherwise (and may ants infest the pants and vest of anyone who teaches that dreary doctrine!).
We were born to be happy - and any other state of mind is not only unnatural, but an unfortunate matter of choice.
We can choose to be happier by seeking and finding some pleasure and/or satisfaction in everything we encounter and everything we do - even the things we "like" least.
As Abe Lincoln put it: "Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."
There's still time for you to make up yours!
Joe Klock, Sr. happily writes in Key Largo, FL. The foregoing was culled from his CD album "In Search Of Maximence." For more information, visit www.joeklock.com
or call (305) 451-0079.
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