Parameters for happiness

More and more I start to realise how we can set arbitrary parameters in order to determine whether or not we’re doing well, and then we can spend far too much time lining ourselves and each other up against those parameters and making judgements.

One of my brothers – (technically half brother as different mum) – died far too early of complications with Parkinson’s Disease and MRSA. I just sat with someone as they dismissed his entire life and threw out the possibility of his happiness because it didn’t fit their parameters of a “successful” life – (a word they applied to their own life which I wouldn’t touch). His whole life was dismissed in the remembering, partly because of obscure personal social grudges against his wife, partly because of an unexamined framework about personal happiness.

I popped out with anger for a moment at the thoughtlessness of it. I spoke their thinly veiled subtext back to them as if it was my actual text. “Yeah you’re right. Fuck her she should be dead too etc etc”. I couldn’t quite believe that a social grudge could destroy all contact with somebody who had been so close to our lost brother.

“Was that satire?” they quietly asked Max when I was out of earshot but cursed by good hearing. I’m not sure how he responded. But yes I suppose it was. It was closer to rage. Maybe my rage manifests itself as satire.

I put a lid on my it. But the rage bit is still simmering because it’s tied up with grief which is slow and stealthy. I’ve written about Jamie before, my eldest brother. In many ways he was the best of us. He made some weird choices, but he never lost the twinkle in his eyes.

Nothing can make you as angry as your own family. I love them dearly too, the ones that remain, even when they get my hackles up like that. Christ, when mum was alive she subscribed to The Daily Mail. We would fight bitterly because I had this subversive idea that people I didn’t know still had value. The paper is very clear about how it’s only personal friends and a select few celebrity types who aren’t secretly trying to eat your soul. Mum got swept up in that nonsense.

There’s a certain isolationism and virtue islanding that happens to people who have cultivated a narrow frame of reference. You see it with both ends of the political spectrum. Daily Mail or 8chan or Language Police etc.

Very easy mistake to make, not expanding your frame of reference and flubbling around in your algorithmic ignobubble. Go towards people you don’t understand. It’ll reward you. I got angry with my family member, but then I went back and listened to them without judgement.

I sometimes go too far in my deliberate and active consciousness explosion and I forget to take account of my own history and my family and how it made me.

Family is so important but it’s never easy. Perspective is important too, and it’s even harder than family.

It’s so unhealthy to just make a decision about somebody and then stick with it no matter what. In both directions. Sometimes people should lose your loyalty until they earn it back. Sometimes people should lose your distaste until they earn it back. We are all hacking together a bunch of parameters around making ourselves happy. So long as you don’t put your happiness in one-upmanship then there’s no reason why you need to look with judgement at how others build theirs.


Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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