I know you’re going through a tough time. Most people don’t understand you, and your attempts to explain meets either puzzled looks or hurried nods. They don’t really care — even when they say they do. You know it. You’ve tried to believe that this was the only way; that life was meant to be survived. But each time, like today, your heart tells you something isn’t right that this isn’t what you were born to experience. That you deserve better.
We’re sitting on the same bench, watching the sea finger our toes — back and forth, back and forth. Everyone is running on this beach: children, parents, angry bankers, happy business owners, sad teachers. Everyone. Except us. We sit there staring into the sea, the beautiful expanse of colorless glass right across the horizon. Then you turn to me:
Can’t they see the rainbow?
No. They have no eyes.
Who am I to suggest that you and I see better than everyone? That we’ve figured out what life is like. That we know what a good life is and what joy really feels like? We’re both childless. We still rely on our parents to tell us they’re proud of us. Even when we’re aware that it’s not healthy, it still feels good to hear it every so often.
So who am I to suggest that the rainbow we see and seek is privy only to us?
It’s because you’ve been struggling that I know. You’ve been hiding it well. You don’t even tell me. You hide it behind sarcasm and introversion. You let it slide when you think I’m not listening. It sometimes bursts when I push really hard. You snap. You bark back. You flare your nose and pound your fist. Raise your voice and stomp the ground. You tell me to get off my high-horse. You tell me to stop this feeling of righteousness. Your rainbow has only one color — red.
I’m often afraid to lose you in those moments.
But I know them too well. Because I’ve done the same. Barked when you ushered a sensitive topic. I’ve ignored the wisdom in your quiet suggestions. My ego raised far above the acceptable. I have denied the chance to learn from you as much as I expect you to learn from me.
No one can tell you what you should do to be happy. We’re all figuring it out. Even the people who get paid to help others are still blind to the truths their clients choose to withhold. The same way you can feel it when someone is lying, but you can’t know the truth.
Happiness is as personal as anything could ever be. I can’t make you happy. You can’t make me happy. And happiness seems to be the one thing that we all want.
Take love, for instance. Even when you fall in love, are you in love because you’re happy, or are you happy because you’re in love? You can tell me that there’s no relationship with both. That you can be independently happy and in love.
But truly, can you? Can you be unhappy and in love?
Before we get into an argument about being “in love,” what I want to show you is that if you continue this journey to help others see the world or be understood, you will be most unhappy.
Take it from someone who has tried. Someone who is working on breaking the habit of years of seeking approval from the people around him. The people on the beach don’t need to see. If they wanted to, they would. And if we dragged them to the shore, pointed to the rainbow, and had them look, they’d still not see.
The beach itself isn’t even where the best part of that sea is. Because you’re now reading this from the comfort of your seat, and you can almost feel the breeze caressing your ankles again. You hear the seagulls up above; you look up to see them soaring in white majesty. You see the children hopping in and out, build castles, and jumping on them. That, right there, is happiness.
Building castles and jumping on them.
What you seek is within you. It’s always been there and will always be. The happiness that may come from building your business and leaving the country or marrying to gal or standing up to your abusive parent — it’s on the beach: you may or may not find your seat. You may or may not find the rainbow. All that is external. Depends on nature.
But one thing you’ve always had — and always will — is yourself. Happiness is with yourself, first. It’s with realizing that the ability to question and seek it is a gift you have. It’s a journey you can take. A path you can forge.
I can ramble all day about what I mean, but as you question the motives of the world around you, my wish for you is that you find what you seek right where you are.
You were never on the beach. The beach was within you.