Monday, 24 June 2013

Instruments of Navigation; Why Rihanna is Wrong

The theme of this blog is choices and how to make the right choices so as to reach the mountain by the least circuitous path. So I was a bit stumped today because it was, as I saw it, a day devoid of choices.
A few months ago I made the decision to once more act as an advisor for the State Exams Commission. I didn't even make the decision; the form came, I signed it and sent it back. I figured I need the money and I like having people in my regular job know that I'm an advisor. The money point is fair enough but the second point is based on my feelings of not being enough. It's still a valid point though, and should in theory do me no harm.
All things come at a price however, and last week was when I started paying. The work involves three trips up the country. The last of these was today. I set the alarm for 6 o'clock, got up and drove, knowing how I'd spend the day and knowing I'd have to drive back in the evening. No choice. No backing out at this stage beyond pulling a sickie.
I decided the only choice I could make today was to try to be happy. I would try to have a happy day. And I did, and I had a happy enough day because I remembered at the neutral bits, the standing around bits, to point towards happiness, towards the mountain. Even the existence of neutral bits was new to me.
Am I any nearer the mountain than yesterday? I don't know. I have decided though, that one of my navigational tools will be to move towards happiness. They say that that's how cats and pigeons navigate. Once they have lived in area long enough, they know the angle of the sun. Put them in a strange place and they move in one direction, find the angle worse and try another and another until the angle improves. That's how they make their way home. So in my choices I will aim to do things that make me feel happy in the short-term.
That awful song "Diamonds" has been running through my head. I find "I choose to be happy" the most irritating lyrics ever as they imply that happy people are that way because they choose to be and ergo, unhappy people are unhappy because somewhere along the line they decided to be unhappy. We had a speaker in work one day who said the same thing. A motivational speaker who told us life was all about choices and people who are depressed are that way because they're making the choice to be that way. I was outraged then, and still am. How can anyone make the choice to move towards happiness in a world so lacking in compassion? No-one chooses to be depressed, or chooses to be unhappy. I didn't choose to be a psychiatric patient. I did what I thought was best. I did what I thought would appease those who held the power and authority in my life. I didn't think I had a choice as I'd been in situation and situation where it was explained to me that I didn't have  a choice.
-You have to stay here until the doctor says you can go.
-You have to take this pill.
-You have to stay away from the person who is complaining about you.
-You have to accept that you're not wanted here/there.
And I did have to stay there until they let me go, and I did have to take the pill. I didn't realise how I could have behaved to make them let me go. I thought I did, and I tried but the more I tried the more determined they became to keep me prisoner.
Happiness was an impossibility for me. Not a theoretical impossibility, but impossible given my lack of knowledge, my situation and my lack of support. I gave up. I lost the map.
Today I had a happy day. Not a good day- I spent it a prisoner of my sense of lack- but a day in which all my choices were based on what would bring me the greater happiness. Rihanna was wrong; we can't choose to be happy. We can only choose to move towards happiness.

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