The International Writers Magazine: Lifestyles
The Art of Bliss
Jude C Perera
It is a beautiful concept, or is it just a myth? Happiness. I am not too sure sometimes. But I enjoy meditating on its infinite potential.
I know that I don’t stand alone in its pursuit. As yet another year swings by I want to switch from abstract meditation to more practical prognosis. Perhaps even master the art of capturing it and keeping it just a little longer, each time.
As a white collar worker of 18 long years (living on the edge) I have only recently begun to appreciate the adventure of a working week. The Monday blues to the Friday highs. I have learnt to articulate the destination: in this case weekends, better that I ever used to. All because of a certain philosopher at work parted with some wisdom quite against my will. And on a Monday morning out of all days. I had not bumped in to him before. He came out with a pedestrian ‘How are you mate?’ and I returned with a biting ‘Not bad for a Monday,’ line.
He stopped with an annoyingly wide grin spanning his face. Annoying since it was a Monday morning and I wanted to simmer in my blues just a while longer.
‘You know that way you’ll enjoy the weekends more, just like Melbourne with its four seasons in one day.’
‘What’s your point?’
I growled. Silently. I had begun to eye my cubicle with some longing by this time. And it looked like the beginning of a verbal thesis. But he possessed charm, loads of it. The ravages of time spread all over him. I was a pupil once again.
‘You might have winter in the morning, but you will look forward to the summer and appreciate it more in the evening, even end up missing winter. ’
He paused for a breather.
‘Good point,’ I muttered and made my escape. He moved on down the passage, perhaps he was still smiling.
Miss winter, that sounded daft. I had hated winter from the moment I tasted my first in Melbourne sixteen years ago. Perhaps the sole souring agent in the world’s most livable city. The dislike had only matured over the years. I never wanted to condone any winter sympathisers. But then again I had never appreciated the consistent tropical heat and blue skies in Sri Lanka when I was growing up. In fact I cursed the sweat that the humidity produced, which required several showers a day. Perhaps…perhaps it was because I took it for granted. I did not appreciate what I had. Is there the prospect of endless joy in a hypothetically “permanent vacation”? The question is in my opinion is more terrifying than any answer.
The peaks could be better appreciated after the troughs. Indeed those highs and lows may have been functions of my attitude after all. The mind could be educated perhaps, to put up with or even appreciate the so called darker moments of life. For some of us it might be the working week. I had touched on the joys of office life in a previous article – The Rules of Engagement.
The more I thought of it the more I warmed to the idea. I wanted to meet the old chap again, he could have been from one of the many branches, but we never introduced ourselves. I had not met him again yet.
I had subconsciously lived out life between vacations. We would always go back to Sri Lanka once every two years, mostly to visit our parents. In between we would wear out the monotony. Day in and day out. Now I wanted to focus on the weekends, turn them into more seductive targets. I started with elaborate plans, got tired with the plotting and ended up retiring to the same routine. One weekend, after a hard slog with the politics at work, we just escaped to the local park with our son, sat on a bench by the lake, and fed the ducks, walked, enjoyed the sunset and walked again. It was a mild spring evening, we came back feeling weirdly satisfied. It was too plain for words, but boundlessly energetic. I was ready for Monday. We have done it before, many times. But it really hit the mark this time, found the switch that turned off the week.
We got bolder and tried it several times a week, at different parks and lakes and made a habit of re-living the same experience. Perhaps it was just me, or us, wanting to be simple. There was a degree of guilt achieving so much so close to home. I had dreamt of trekking to Machu Picchu or visiting the Pyramids, always. Felt like I had wasted most of my life on routine. Entertained regret. But for the first time it felt as if I was exactly where I was meant to be, I could not be someone else. My faith as a Christian played as always a redeeming role. I might visit Machu Picchu one day, but there should be no regret that it had not happened yet.
I might even look forward to the winter in 2015, knowing that it is not permanent, rather a season offering a different perspective to the climate. Packaging its own beauty. But I had already mastered some constants of the basic formula: to live within my means. To service a mortgage that left additional financial room to service the lifestyle that I desired. Despite the cultural traps that repeatedly tempted me to become house poor, secure that pressure cooker job or to send my kid to that outrageously pricey private school. My parents taught me that and I am lucky to have a spouse who endorses it with equal venom. I guess it is sensible to be a poor wise man than the proverbial rich fool (from the good book). Play the tortoise against the hare.
Then there were the boats. Refugees dying trying to reach Australia, just so they could have a slice of my life. A piece from my pie. Where a simple infection hurts more than a bullet, it means being thrown overboard: to save the rest of the human cargo. It was empowering to acknowledge and even feel guilty over my first world problems. There are much bigger problems on the planet, obviously. The call to level the playing field for all should obviously be the clarion call. The boats brought that home strongly. I could start counting my blessings more methodically than ever before.
Now that’s a perspective that I would love to embrace as I face living in 2015 and the rest of my life. I have a sneaky feeling that bliss may follow.
I will certainly try.
© Jude .C Perera February 2015
(gogo72au at yahoo.com.au)
A Requiem for a Sri Lankan Christmas
Jude C Perera
For the past two decades, may be more, I have been haunted by the ghost of Christmas past.
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