Do you ever get the feeling that something’s wrong? Like you know something’s not right, but you can’t put your finger on what? I’m talking immense panic. Profound awareness that something isn’t right about the universe. I’ve been hit with this after studying especially horrific pieces of history. The book “Ordinary Men” shook me to the bone. And even reading the Wikipedia synopsis of “The Gulag Archipelago” took me out for days. But I got the same feeling the other day, without warning. And it taught me something important about my happiness.
It all started when I woke up early. Never a good sign — I’m a night owl. Early mornings and I are like pineapples and pizza. But actually, if you use that simile with someone who happens to belong in the deepest ring of hell, it might not make sense. So I’ll put it literally: Early mornings and I are categorically incompatible. So when I rise early naturally? That’s symptomatic of some deeper psychosis.
It wasn’t noise or light that stirred me. It was dread. I felt like something was wrong. Except this time, I wasn’t reading about genocide. Something was just telling me that something was up with a close friend of mine. So naturally, I texted him. And went to take a shower. When I came back, nothing. Strange. It’s not like the timezones were off — we live in the same city. He should’ve been responsive. And that’s when I started to panic.
For the next few hours, I paced the house in a state of shock. Hugging my guitar because that was the only thing I had which was remotely huggable. It’s the right shape, size, and everything. Until finally, the my silly old billygoat of a friend replied. And I was immediately overcome with relief. “He’s still alive!” You have to understand: I had been worrying all day. With my conscience alerting me of a problem the whole time. Which means I was at the point where I was Googling news to make sure nothing out of the ordinary was happening. I mean, I was completely losing my mind. And the relief I felt from just that one text? Knowing the guy was still alive. You can’t imagine how valuable that is.
That’s what my happiness is predicated on, these days. I’m just overjoyed all the time because someone I love didn’t get hit by a truck on the way to the store. Or break their leg. Or go blind. Or get mauled by a gorilla. Or get overwhelmed by losing someone they love. If you think about it, that’s already a huge bonus. If something horrible didn’t happen to any of the people you care about, you should be thrilled. Because you have no idea what you’d be willing to give up when you’re sitting there worrying about them, with no way of knowing if you’ll ever hear back. You’d give anything to have them be alright. It would mean the world to you. So start living like it. Don’t wait until you get a close scare. Do it now, while they’re still around to notice.