Friday, March 14, 2014

Since I am reading “The Everything Store”, or the pursuit of happiness

So the last we heard about Blinky was when she lost her coveted elf status for love (here). Please read this post after the one below  J
So after wondering the locales for a while, desperately unhappy, Blinky set out to find happiness. And since she was once an elf, she prayed very hard to the Elf Queen and Santa for one last inspiration and set off.
Being pragmatic and knowing that atmosphere does play a role in mental well being, she started her travels in the south of france, (Neha thats coz you couldn't leave these things entirely to chance, you had to do your bit in the happiness pursuit :p). She came upon a charming little cottage on the edge of a cliff surrounded by rolling green fields, with the sea just visible below, white and frothing and lashing against the rocks. It was a beautiful location and she thought maybe that was it.
But then she saw him, tall, youngish looking, setting up a curious assortment of things. Of course he was a wizard, she realized when she saw the staff.
He beckoned to her and asked her what brought her there. She answered that she was just looking around and asked what he was doing.
‘I am building a happiness store”, he said, “an everything store”. “Where you can find lasting happiness”.
Blinky thought wildly that Santa must really miss her (those strawberry cookies were pretty amazing). What she was just supposed to go to the store and buy the stuff? He had lost his finesse and imagination though. “Probably came from the sugar high’, she thought unkindly
And she was just about to ask how much, when she stopped and looked around. Yes the store had everything material you could possibly wish for. But Blinky had worked with Santa.
“These things can’t buy you lasting happiness ! “ she said.
He replied testily that he knew that but one had to start somewhere, this was the first day but it was a venture he was really excited about.
“Oh then you need to have feelings, experiences” she said. “Have that in your store”.
He approved and offered her an apprenticeship.
“Iv just finished one, I can’t risk being typecast” Blinky countered. ‘How about business partner?” she negotiated.
Well so that was done and The Happiness Store- beta came up. There were counters for every experience you could possibly imagine. Business was brisk, and learning even more so.
Evenings were times for intellectual debates on what constituted lasting happiness. They chose a different setting each day from their coffee and conversations experience counter.
“ Well altruism” she suggested,  and they added a counter for that, accomplishment- a ladder where you could accomplish whatever you wanted, right from flying to diving to the bed of the ocean !,  the experience of being beautiful, the experience of the first date, music, parties, intellectual conversations, the list grew more exhaustive every day.
And they noticed a pattern among their customers, the ones who came for momentary experiences of dizzying happiness, and they came most often, but over time , she saw that effect was wearing off, she saw regret post the experience and hopelessness. They debated setting up a counter for hope but realized that it did not work in isolation, the ones who tried to build more lasting happiness- through learning of a new skill, becoming kinder, nicer, helping others, making friends, meeting interesting people, they didn’t come that often, but even they ran out of that happiness from time to time.
And what about they themselves? After the initial dizzying euphoria, the effect was fast wearing off. Blinky couldn’t understand this and mentioned this that evening.
“I just realized what we keep reading, that happiness is a state of mind !! I can just choose to be happy”, she said excitedly and was really happy for a moment.
“Try” he said sarcastically, adding that they needed to add a counter for the good idea experience.
He was nothing if not meticulous and hardworking; she thought and shuddered when she remembered the counter he had designed for “work will set you free”. It was when they were watching a documentary on something called Nazism in another parallel universe that he was persuaded to change the name.
She tried very hard. “I don’t feel anything”, she said eventually.
“Yes that state of mind thing works when there is something to look forward to. Else all you feel is empty”, he said adopting a sanctimonious expression which always made her roll her eyes.
“But why is this happening to us, how can we tire of everything so fast”, she said?
“Uh I may have forgotten to mention that this is a wizard’s house, and we wizards experience in minutes what other people do in years, that’s part of the reason why we are so wise”, he added sheepishly.
“So normal people can go through life with a mix of these experiences, and not tire till it was too late but we have pretty much reached that stage. “
She was afraid to ask the next question. “So how old am I, technically”, she asked almost in a whisper.
“ Well about a hundred”, he said and noticing her expression added kindly,  “well, I am a hundred and fifty”.
Blinky thought of that dashing Elf she had once fancied and always hoped to return to. He did have a thing for older woman, but strictly within the same generation.
“How could you keep this from me ! “, she stormed.
“What are you fussing about, aren’t Elves immortal”, he said. Wizards on the other hand, live till about five hundred.
‘I gave up my immortality for love”, she screamed back.
“Sounds like the plot of a bad movie”, he grumbled.
“So is there no hope for us?”she questioned? ” I think I should leave this place now”.
“There is one thing the store doesn't provide, and thats love”, he said. " But you probably know all about that", he said wickedly.
She glared at him and thought back. Yes finding something/ someone you loved.... no but even that didn't last. She couldn't remember the last time she has thought about the guy.
He was watching her with an unusually somber expression, as if willing her to say it.
"So there is no such thing as lasting happiness?" she ventured
No there isn't he said, I realized that a while back (the smug expression was thankfully absent). But its very good for business as you get a high percentage of repeat customers !
He realized that the joke fell flat.
But Blinky as usual had to have the last word. "If there is no such thing as lasting happiness, then why are we aiming for it?"
"Well I am aiming for something better", he said irritatingly. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

No I am not dead yet