September 6, 2013

I Don't Trust Happiness

The worst day of your life is when you discover the thing that you think you might want to do for the rest of it. It's the moment of fear when the safety bar drops on the roller coaster. It's that point when you become the people you make fun of. You are genuinely happy--happy enough to get hurt.

I've always told myself and others that I'm not sure what I want to do with my life. Sure I've got a few ideas, but nothing is solid, there are no plans in place. Just ideas. Ideas are nice because you can always get new ones. Plans suck. Plans involve commitments and consequences. Plans can get people hurt. But I find that more and more I'm planning to teach again and semester, next forever.

I'm a teaching assistant at a university. And my students are good students. They take notes, they ask questions, and they follow my instructions (mostly). I walk out of each class period feeling proud, fulfilled, and of course, worried. What if I have things too easy? Is this all just an act they're putting on for my benefit? Will my class eventually erupt into chaos that I will never control? Things are going too well right now. And I find myself waiting for the disappointment like it's my plus-one to a friend's concert. Soon and very soon I'm going to get hurt.

But that's a short term worry. When my students do let me down, I'll get over it and keep on doing what I'm doing. My bigger fear is that someday I won't be able to recapture the happiness that I have now. See, right now I KNOW I love to teach. Every damn day I'm bombarded by the feeling that I'm doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. But maybe someday I'll say, I remember when I used to be happy.
"Tis better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all."
Fuck you Tennyson! If I lose my love for teaching public speaking to students I can't just say "Oh well, I remember the good times!" Because I'll still be doing it. I'm still waking up in the morning and going through the lessons, the readings, and the tests. I'm too far down the road to turn back. Now I'm just riding til I run out of gas. If I lose my love of teaching I don't feel nostalgic and sweetly sad...I feel hopeless.

So I guess I begin to wonder which is worse: The feeling that something is missing because you haven't found what makes you truly happy, or the feeling that you'll never reclaim the one thing in your life that really meant something.

I don't trust happiness, but that doesn't mean I can't trust it.