Saturday 3 of December, 2022
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Morphein? Sacrifice Me Some Love (Pill #2)

In search of existential morphine through her series, Morphein?, Sanabel al-Najjar will attempt (perhaps too ambitiously) to delve into our days and come up with conclusions about happiness and meaning in life.

Staff Writer

“How many of us can recall that childhood moment when we experienced happiness as a state of being? When everything in our world was all right?” This quote, taken from the bloody brilliant masterpiece of a movie, Hector and His Search for Happiness, ought to become a vital component of the psyche of those passionately in love and simultaneously madly infuriated with this moving painting that is life.

This might sound old, but you already probably know by now that the maroonish red you dyed your hair with last night, the new gigantic TV screen you got for the living room, and that stranger you met at some club whose name you can barely recall, did not make you happy, and it hurt like hell because you felt so good pursuing them. Parking the car and walking to the beauty parlour, sitting down at the leather chair, getting your hair washed and then coloured while staring at your reflection in the mirror, that you will look different and feel it. You promised yourself you will feel different. But here you are, feeling the same, but only now with coarse hair, cursing every item and person in front of you because you are still not happy.

And it is precisely why the quote above is so piercingly beautiful.

As we grow up and ‘mature’ into sad little creatures called adults (or worse yet, ‘responsible’ adults), we become almost completely oblivious to the rich components that make this life worth living. We soak in as much misery as our bodies can absorb and try to ooze it later by going to clubs, buying sports cars, ditching the spouse for a younger one, and pretending to be happier than we really are on social media. We become paranoid, self-absorbed, self-righteous, and, of course, self-obsessed. It’s always about me; the modern man living in this new modern life.

The reason why I get goosebumps every single time I play the movie to hear the quote is because it carries within it a precious gem that is the term ‘childhood’. It immediately takes me back in time when my little brother and I would go in spring to the fields near our house in Amman to pick spring worms, place them on our arms, and giggle as they keep crawling close to our faces. We picked berries from the neighbours’ garden, rode bikes, and had balloon water fights. That was my childhood moment of happiness.

It was not, however, such a heavenly moment of joy in my life because the weather was warm (it still is) or because we had bikes. It’s because we were so dedicated to this feeling of simple happiness and its pursuit that nothing else mattered. In my nostalgic recollection of those times, I tend to crop out the many times the neighbours yelled and even ran after us, the time I broke my leg trying to build a swing (yeah, that was a failed project), the many times I fell off trees and badly scratched my elbows, and the many times my little brother (now two times my size) got scorned and yelled at by our parents.

Nothing mattered because, like most children, we understood without knowing the seed of happiness: sacrifice.

The reason we have morphed into coarse creatures, desperately seeking ways out through meditation classes, taking on a hobby on a whim, or even having children, is because we know we are unhappy – we feel it in our bones but are oblivious as to why. Sacrifice, however, doesn’t necessarily mean giving away a kidney or refusing a dream job to be near your best friend. Oftentimes, sacrifice comes up in the little details of our everyday life.

When I see him controlled and patient while I’m having one of my inexplicable and monstrous fits, still filled with love and calmness, that is sacrifice. Taking the metro instead of your car not because of the traffic but because you love observing people as they’re getting ready for work, that is sacrifice. Leaving your high paying job because it made you count minutes till 5 PM every day and venturing into the unknown, that is sacrifice. Leaving the comfort of a warm home and a safe life in pursuit of love and adventure, that is sacrifice.

That is why I internally shiver every time I come across a foreigner who left a comfortable life and went out looking for real, raw, and unpolished life – every time I meet a doctor-turned-writer or a crafts artist building stunning little figures from recycled items. You look at their faces and you see happiness; their face says it with a smile, so welcoming of life – of its good, of its bad.

To find happiness you must make sacrifice(s). Snapping at the crowdedness of the metro, complaining about the dirty streets and polluted air of one of the most vigorous and lively cities in the world, reading too much into why everything bad is happening to you, and regretting ever attempting to pursue happiness are all hollow sticks on which we oftentimes base our life.

I don’t believe in the positive energy crap, but I do believe in being brave in life and even headbutting – fighting for your happiness and embracing with a heart as vast and encompassing as your very existence – all the bumps and black eyes that come with that.

The one line that completely and so so beautifully sums up the way I view life and live it is a sentence that shakes me to the core every time, by the glorious Charles Bukowski who says in one of his letters: “Find what you love and let it kill you.”

Here’s to Bukowski and a rugged but intimate pursuit of happiness.

Artwork: ‘Marigold’ by Sylvia Ji