Tuesday, 18 March 2008

What we want

Happiness, surely, about which one reads in books by many an unhappy author.
True Love, perhaps, which like a ghost, everybody talks about and few have seen.

For True Love (and it deserves those capitals) demands a desire for true labour and deep thought to coincide in two people. We are flawed creatures: even the successful suffer from pride, the intelligent from vanity, the wealthy from avarice and need. Success, intelligence and wealth are but facets ground from the stone, but no amount of polishing will eliminate our flaws, however much we hope to dazzle others by our brilliance.

The secret, I submit with humility, is to love those flaws in another as the emblem and badge of our common humanity; to recognize in others what one sometimes dreads to find in oneself, and to accept it, nay, welcome it with a laugh or a wry smile, with recognition. When we fail to find flaws in ourselves, or confess to little flaws because we wish to persuade ourselves that we have no great ones, then we are in peril of finding fault in all humanity, and not merely in our tarnished lover.

Be not deceived by the disappointment that is certain to come after an affaire du coeur has cooled. The diamond you buy under the goldsmith's lights will change appearance in different settings, yet it does not change in essence. There is much delight in the intimate companionship of a fellow human, and much to reward those who work to discover another's goodness, for we are as abundantly endowed with goodness as we are with flaws.

Happiness, I think, takes an equal measure of work, for it is dented by perceived need and by the insult of hunger and exhaustion on the mind. Chinese medical practice believes mental health is no more than a manifestation of corporal health, and treats anxiety and depression with physical remedies ~ mens sana in corpore sano. And it has been discovered ill health will spread worry and doubt around it as surely as the plague spreads disease. Happiness then is easily cured: rest early, sleep well, eat with discretion, laugh often and unexpectedly, and want as little as possible.

One feels entitled to offer advice at my age, even when it is unasked for!
In fact I could think of nothing better to write about.

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