Why true happiness does not mean being happy

I’ve been discussing this picture with a friend and she says she wouldn’t actually mind living like that for the rest of her life. It’s an attractive life, one that grants one a great deal of freedom and unencumbers them from the demands and responsibilities that everyday common folk need to go through. The lifestyle appeals to me too, more so now that 2020 has started badly for me.
But I doubt human beings are able to lead such tranquil lives and be contented. I know humans. We are not a peaceful creature at heart, even our religions are intrinsically violent. Even if everything is going just fine and we have achieved everything we desired, we will still yearn for strife and go out to look for it.
If someone gave you a million dollars right now, I bet you’re thinking you’d quit that boring job and retire somewhere along the coast, where you’d spend your afternoons lazying on a hammock and sipping cocktails while watching the sunset. Well, you’ll try that, and it will be fine and all at first. But I doubt you’d lead such a lifestyle for longer than six months. Soon, you’ll get fed up and throw yourself back into the grind. We like seeking out challenges. And, as the Good Book condemns, “There ain’t no rest for the wicked.”
There was a time, many years ago, when the Romans ruled the world. They had everything money could buy at that time. They didn’t even have to work, for they had Slaves from Europe and Africa and Syria to work for them (they weren’t racist, they enslaved everyone). The Roman citizens enjoyed all this wealth and leisure, but not for long. Soon, they were bored. They wanted to feel again. They built huge coliseums that looked like Nyayo Stadium and would ask beautiful slave girls to strip naked and make out. Then, in the middle of the show, they would release lions and tigers which would devour the naked girls. This amused the Romans so much. It gave them adrenaline. It gave them a pulse.
Paulo Coelho wrote a book titled “Adultery.” The heroine is a woman in Switzerland who has achieved it all… Money, great husband, great career, wonderful kids… Then she became so peaceful and started complaining that life is boring… Started doing cocaine and initiated an affair with a politician just so she can feel something.
If you go to Kilimani and Hurlingham (Random estate, no offence to people from Kilimani) today and found those housewives of rich people, you’ll discover that they’re mostly depressed and sorta miserable. You’ll ask yourself “This lady has a great husband, her kids are in international schools and she has a virtually unlimited expense account. Why’s she complaining too much? Why can’t she be grateful?” It’s not that the woman is ungrateful or anything. She just lacks challenges to stimulate her in life. She wants to feel. She wants a pulse.
This internal resistance against happy content lives is what makes children of billionaires start vanity businesses like fashion lines, flower decorations and weight loss apps. Even though the businesses are making heavy losses, at least it allows the kids to feel something. It’s also why Uhuru won’t retire in 2022, try as he may.
My mother, a lifelong teacher, is nearing retirement. When she chose to build her retirement house near Nairobi, I questioned her decision, saying, “Why are you building here where it’s quite expensive while you can comfortably build a much bigger house at the countryside?”
First, she reminded me that she will never retire. To be fair, I’m not a very responsible adult, so she’ll pretty much be looking after me long after her contract with TSC expires. She also told me that the reason she’ll not be hanging up her boots and settling in the village is that, growing up in Mukurweini, Nyeri, she witnessed people building large 10-bedroom houses to retire in. At 55 (people retired really early those days), the seniours would come to their empty mansions and spend most days basking in the sun. Those retirees, my mother tells me, never lived past 65. They all fell into depression, became overweight and died of loneliness (though doctors would sometimes blame diabetes or a bad heart).
Never retire. It is against human nature.
If you’re feeling like you can’t feel your pulse, how do you make life meaningful again? I think I’ll write about that tomorrow.

Lukorito Jones

When I'm not busy chasing around stories for my quasi-journalism career, you'll find me dabbling in fiction and perfecting my deer-dancing and goat-screaming skills.

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