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The Pursuit of Happiness

I wonder sometimes, lately, why I’m not happy.

I know I have a bad form of cancer. I’m in treatment and it’s making me feel awful but…

Why am less happy than I was before I had cancer?

Drugs?  A shorter lifespan than I thought I’d have? A wish for things I don’t have? Can’t have? Shouldn’t have?

What have I done that I have lost my capacity for happiness?

I have conquered adversity in my past. I may have been unhappy, but I got over it. Eventually.  And somehow I always knew, at my saddest and most desparate, that I would. I embraced sadness and unhappiness because they are part of life. Part of being happy.


I want to be as happy as a dog at the beach. Is that asking for too much?! I don’t think so.

I have lived a full life without asking for more than I can usefully have. I never wanted fame, fortune, beauty or a towering intellectual genius. I wanted peace, friends and family around me. I wanted to go dancing, cook better, draw better, and sing better.. Even sad songs made me happy. Hearing Bonnie Raitt sing ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’, which is a terribly sad song and makes me remember a sad time in my life, made me happy. I learned so much when that song made me cry every time I heard it.

Cooking made me happy, friends all talking to each other, playing a game, sitting in a pub, sketching something…writing.

These are the things that created flow for me. The things that I could lose myself in.

But I’ve lost something that has nothing to do with my health. I’ve lost my happiness.

There are sick people in this world who have happiness. Why am I not happy?

My brothers are here to visit. They’ve brought all the kids and the wives. The house is full. Uncle Dave came too. And I am not happy. I’m tired and feel harassed and bored. I want to be alone. That’s not right.

There’s a devil in me. There’s something that’s wrong and it’s not cancer. It’s my ability to reach out and feel the happiness that was always at my fingertips. It’s my joy when I saw happy people. It’s vanished. When I read your blogs and comments, happiness was at my fingertips. A challenge made me happy. Cats made me happy. Dogs…music…there is so much to be happy about. And I have lost it…it seems as if I expected that it would always be there to grasp. I wait patiently. It will come back, won’t it? It always has. A small push in the right direction and it will come back. Of course it will…

But it seems that I was wrong. Happiness must be pursued. Ha. The Benjamin Franklin quote. The Constitution of the USA guarantees the pursuit of happiness, but you still have to go out and catch it.

I LOVE my chickens...me and Nina

I LOVE my chickens. They’re hard to catch, too.

So here’s the thing…I have been sitting here for the past 6 months, waiting for the moth wing brush of happiness to touch me again. Since it hasn’t, I am going to find it. I am not waiting any longer. Not wasting any more time hoping it will come back.

I am angry in a way. My little niece, Momoko, was here and I couldn’t be really happy. My nephews, my brothers and sisters…oh, I was mad. How can I be unhappy when I am surrounded my family. By the best food and drinks, by dogs and friends, vacation time?

But I STILL love you!

Sick as hell but I was STILL happy…

I deserve to be happy. To hell with this fog. This gray, blah feeling. This irritation and desire to be alone.

‘Alive, alive, I want to get up and jive, I want to wreck my stockings in some junk joint dive…’ Thank you Joni Mitchell.

Yes. There is a way. I can fix this. One thing I can do is participate. In something.  In anything.  In something outside of myself. There is a way back from this. I’m going to find it. I am going to start blogging again regularly. I’m going to write again and listen to music and I’m going to walk in the rain. I’m going to listen to music again and shake this gray out of my life.


I WILL find happiness. Even if it means taking a selfie where I look as if someone is pointing a gun at me and I’m not sure if it’s a real gun. I want to just lie down and read a book or watch a movie and eat dinner and not think but…that is not the way to happiness.

I have to get up and find it. It’s there.


14 thoughts on “The Pursuit of Happiness

  1. For some of us happiness, or contentment, is an active struggle. My tendency is to dark thoughts; so every day I make a conscious effort in the opposite direction. I’ve now organized for myself a life of enjoyment. Every afternoon I stop for my private happy hour in the garden. Gin, music, cigar, pause. In winter I do that by the fire which I light daily.
    Every evening I don’t make ‘a dinner’- I go all out, every single night.
    Once I started living this way I also decided to stop fearing smoking, drinking- or anything else. I’ve done and/or still do everything I love, and so if I have to go this evening, I go in peace 🙂
    And here’s an interesting trick which was also an interesting lesson for me. The Andalusians can take a song like Que c’est triste Venise, put rhythm to it, and suddenly it sounds hopeful:


    • You just reminded me why I love Spanish music so much. I need to play some Gypsy Kings really LOUD. I think people all have a natural bent towards dark or light thoughts. Mine has always been lighter, so dipping into the murky, for me, waters is debilitating. I am resolved to make myself happy. It’s shite because my usual releases have been removed. I’m on drugs that won’t let me drink (the stupid infection came back) I can’t wear dancing shoes, and the chemo makes me tired and irritable. This won’t make it easy but at least I recognize what’s happening. Thank you for the tune. It’s a beauty. It reminds me that of all I’ve lost, I can still sing…


  2. Keep singing, keep moving and most of all, keep writing. Your voice is beautiful despite the doldrums of cancer. But you’re right: happiness can be cultivated. May your pursuit be fruitful!


  3. I’ve been dealing with pneumonia and serious complications from it for over a year with a lengthy, delicate, uncertain recovery still ahead. I can say from personal experience, that happiness always comes with a physical setback. I have two nice days, then I feel awful again. After awhile, I know I’m going to pay down the line for my happy day. You get to a point where you don’t even look forward to a nice day. It all lies in retraining your brain and im working on that.


  4. Hurrah! Laura Lynn, The Return! We’ve missed you.
    But don’t be so hard on yourself, doll. Aren’t you getting enough hurled at you without starting on yourself? With all the will in the world, you’re sick and that does a number on you, you feel different than before, it’s natural, the drugs are probably different too.

    I know many miserable feckers and they don’t even have the excuse of cancer. It’s the human condition that we are constantly in a tug of war with. You’re no different, petal.

    But you’re right. Don’t push aside the writing and the drawing and those things that feed the soul because those private moments when you’ve soared away and feel a sense of pride in what you’ve achieved sitting there by yourself are priceless. The stuff of life, really!

    Looking forward to your posts!


  5. Hi Laura Lynn! Your blog is so honest and meaningful to me. You answer so many questions I had about my sister and her cancer journey. Therefore, I’ve just nominated you for “One Lovely Blogger Award.” Check out the “rules” on my blog: chandralynn.wordpress.com.


  6. Hang in there and continue writing. I saw this posting (below) today and decided to come visit one of my favorite writers. Sad to see you are feeling gray when I would have pegged you to be sky blue.
    Science Shows Something Surprising About People Who Love to Write
    By Rachel Grate September 15, 2014
    The benefits of writing go far beyond building up your vocabulary.
    No matter the quality of your prose, the act of writing itself leads to strong physical and mental health benefits, like long-term improvements in mood, stress levels and depressive symptoms. In a 2005 study on the emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing, researchers found that just 15 to 20 minutes of writing three to five times over the course of the four-month study was enough to make a difference.
    By writing about traumatic, stressful or emotional events, participants were significantly more likely to have fewer illnesses and be less affected by trauma. Participants ultimately spent less time in the hospital, enjoyed lower blood pressure and had better liver functionality than their counterparts.
    It turns out writing can make physical wounds heal faster as well. In 2013, New Zealand researchers monitored the recovery of wounds from medically necessary biopsies on 49 healthy adults. The adults wrote about their thoughts and feelings for just 20 minutes, three days in a row, two weeks before the biopsy. Eleven days later, 76% of the group that wrote had fully healed. Fifty-eight percent of the control group had not recovered. The study concluded that writing about distressing events helped participants make sense of the events and reduce distress.
    Even those who suffer from specific diseases can improve their health through writing. Studies have shown that people with asthma who write have fewer attacks than those who don’t; AIDS patients who write have higher T-cell counts. Cancer patients who write have more optimistic perspectives and improved quality of life.
    So what is it about writing that makes it so great for you?
    James W. Pennebaker has been conducting research on writing to heal for years at the University of Texas at Austin. “When people are given the opportunity to write about emotional upheavals, they often experience improved health,” Pennebaker writes. “They go to the doctor less. They have changes in immune function.”
    Why? Pennebaker believes this act of expressive writing allows people to take a step back and evaluate their lives. Instead of obsessing unhealthily over an event, they can focus on moving forward. By doing so, stress levels go down and health correspondingly goes up.
    You don’t have to be a serious novelist or constantly reflecting on your life’s most traumatic moments to get these great benefits. Even blogging or journaling is enough to see results. One study found that blogging might trigger dopamine release, similar to the effect from running or listening to music.
    From long-term health improvements to short-term benefits like sleeping better, it’s official: Writers are doing something right.
    @RachelSGrate austenfeminist.wordpress.com


    • ‘…Even blogging or journaling is enough to see results. One study found that blogging might trigger dopamine release, similar to the effect from running or listening to music.’

      I just love how they write ‘even blogging is enough to see results.’ As if somehow blogging doesn’t count as much as ‘real’ writing. Hee hee…I haven’t been writing much lately and your comment has spurred me on to write. Something, anything. It’s time.

      Funny you wrote me. I was thinking of you just a couple of days ago and wishing you well. How have you been? I miss reading your blog and always looked forward to reading your replies. There are so many people who I met through the blog that are such good people. But for some reason I haven’t felt a pull to write. That’s going to change today.

      The chemo is kicking my ass lately and I’ve been a little off my feed. Fuzzy brained and unmotivated but managing somehow to feel like crap despite great weather, a lovely garden and no recent bad news. Hate it.

      Thanks for the note and the news that writing is beneficial. I should have guessed. Maybe this is why I am feeling so low. I haven’t been writing. Well, here goes…


      • Hi and I am so sad at the thought of chemo kicking you because I know how that can feel-damned awful. You hang in there and do continue blogging. I guess the scientists haven’t figured out what we know about blogging. You can make friends with people online. And some of the finest people I’ll ever know are bloggers. Moreover, blogging has helped me through some tough times. I am recovering from a year of challenges that had nothing to do with cancer. Get ready though. I am working up to a comeback! Much love and many hugs for one of my favorite people!


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