Yesterday, choosing happy took some doing. The day was set to be a good one, with brunch scheduled with my honorary Aunt and my Mom, but the recent atrocities in the news took the reins of the conversation, and a quaint stroll on a lush trail of conversation derailed right into oncoming traffic: The world is damned, and we’re all at fault, and there’s barely anything we can do about it. It’s the last part that murders my patience. Hopelessness has never served to accomplish anything, and demoralizing conversation is the most useless form of communication. (In conversations like these, I like to sardonically note that it’s not like we haven’t improved even slightly in the last 10,000 years of recorded human history, even if our improvement may be subjectively considered minuscule– at least the Colosseum isn’t in the gladiator business anymore).
Visits with this one particular relative always tend to go this way. For whatever reason, these two must analyze all the world’s problems every time they get together, and consequently get into passive aggressive debate (even though they inherently agree with each other). The two of them seem to oddly enjoy it, feeling clearly enlivened during and after, but it’s frankly the most draining thing to watch, let alone be asked to participate in. I needed an out. I stared down at my once delicious, and inhumanly large serving of french toast. “Choose happy,” I thought. That choice led me to texting my friend for an out.
I managed to schedule new evening plans (to replace the ones that were cancelled the day prior), but I didn’t have my escape until eight in the evening, and would have to bear this dynamic until then.
Perhaps cowardly, I faked a headache and chose happy: I took a long nap.
And I did not regret it.
I woke up with a new sense of patience, found my Aunt still present, with the conversation having shifted to movies. They asked me to join them, and with new energy, I was able to give them the benefit of the doubt that the trend of the conversation had shifted to something a little more hopeful, if only at least polite.
And the day improved.
I had started this second day with a sense of purpose. How was I going to be happy? I was going to be productive! I would try my hand at making mulled wine! Clearly, it would not be the most stellar mulled wine, with a former college kid’s budget, but Barefoot ain’t that bad! In fact, in my experience, not bad at all!
When the day took such a quick turn to less than bearable, I felt disappointed in myself that I couldn’t muster up a “better way to be happy.” But, the point of this exercise is also to learn self-awareness, and make choices that help me stay mentally and emotionally healthy. The conversation did the opposite of that. To remove myself, harmlessly and politely, was the healthy choice (because, lemme tell ya, you try reigning in that conversation, myself and my three cousins have spent the last cumulative decade trying).
I was faced with a new challenge. I had to accept that what makes my Mom and Aunt happy is their heated debate, and yet oddly loving company of mutual understanding in their disillusionment. I don’t have to understand it. I have to accept it. And, in doing so, I have to accept that I don’t fit into it, and to spare my own sanity, I have to make a choice that might not be the most generous.
I’ll come back when the topic’s changed, and nap in the meantime.