"You cannot capture happiness no matter how hard you may chase after it. Happiness is something that follows you." The words of the old sage echoed in the young man’s heart, sounding a constant beat like the song that plays over and over without reprieve. "What does that mean?" he asked himself. "Time to walk," he continued, trapped in his own inner dialogue.
He thought about how many ways he tried to find lasting joy—from the cheap thrills to the bigger emotional investments that still left him bankrupt, at square one, with no more to show than a few scars and wrinkles and perhaps a tiny glimpse of what to avoid—far from any solution, more like a the-pain-will-stop-when-you-stop-smacking-yourself-with-the-baseball-bat approach that moved nothing forward. At least it didn’t move back. Or did it? "The pursuit of pain avoidance will never lead to happiness," he mused inside his aching head, an ache that scratched his soul, dug deep into his bowels to trouble and torment him, turned his stomach green, a sickly, hungover nausea that clung like ivy smothering a chimney. "I’ve gotta’ figure this out," he demanded, "I wanna’ be happy."
He kept one foot in front of the other, as if the forward march would somehow will the understanding to step forth and make itself known. No such luck—though he vowed to keep on. His slow gait opened space for introspection—plod, seek, plod, seek. The mental wheels spun, though he wrestled with a vague notion that only in stillness would answers emerge or materialize.
"I can’t capture happiness but I yearn for it. I try to do the right things yet it eludes me, like pushing a string. When do the right things add up? When is enough enough? How do I reel it in? Or can I?"
His legs carried him while his mind churned.
"I know I can’t look outside myself but how do I look within? How does looking help anyway? What do I do with what I see?" He tripped over a protruding stone and found himself falling, a gash on the knee, a burn on the palm of his hand. He sat for a long while, watching the wounds leak, a queer smirk across his lips. "What’s that about?" he pondered.
Despite his stuff, he felt a smile creep upward from his chin. It spread into a grin, like the sun rising between two mountain tops, filling the space with pale light that gains strength with each passing moment, a space that floods with pinks and reds and causes the valley between the crests to stream awakening to all below. He suddenly knew, as we all know, in that profound and knowing place, that the rock that sent him tumbling spoke a universal truth. Only he could pry open the creaking, groaning door that hid his darkest secrets as well as his enlightenment and build a pathway for happiness to alight and embrace him.
He licked the blood from his wrist and tasted himself, glanced down at his torn jeans, the naked flesh speckled with bits of gravel, glanced up and discovered an emerald green tree line, a blue sky, a stray cloud, a soaring hawk and a glowing eye that stared back at him and gave him, for a hushed moment, a tiny piece of happiness.
That’s A View From The Ridge…
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