Somewhere in the forest of my rough notes nestled this little piece. I had evidently written it with a view to tying the pursuit of happiness to the happiness of pursuit and all that.
A couple of the son’s friends had come over and without wasting a moment, they started a vigorous game of I-honestly-don’t-know-what. I could hear loud giggling by the couch as they jumped from the sofa to somewhere else and back on. After an hour of this, I asked them the point of the game. They exchanged quizzical shrugs.
* Was there a point in the jumping game?
* Was there a point in jumping?
* Was there a point in a sofa or the cushions below?
I laughed at their loss of words, and let them go back to their game. They were kind enough to ask if I wanted to join. Detecting a distinct take-pity-on-me vibe from the frazzled, frayed sofa, I gallantly told the children to proceed without me. They looked relieved and continued happily.
I looked at their flushed faces and saw that the point of the whole thing was that they were happy. Happiness as a concept has the philosophers stumped. Philosophers who deal with heavy themes such as meaning of life and so on, spend a considerable amount of time pondering the meaning of happiness, the importance of the pursuit of it all, among other things.
I am listening to a lecture series on the Meaning of Life. Professor Drone (lookup the name later) talks about pursuit of happiness among other things when he is explaining Aristotelian Ethics. Honor, Wealth, Excellence are all worthy pursuits in our lives, but it can all be towards something else: Happiness. Underlying our quest for Honor, W & E is a desire to be happy, he says.
Unfortunately, as we grow, the little drops of sunshine that so easily caused mirth and joy tend to fade.
But as I read the little note above, I also felt a little pang – for it showed me what the children were missing now. The camaraderie of classroom replaced with the tiny tiles of an online meeting, the wholehearted enjoyment of jumping replaced by online games. I had spent the whole day in one meeting after another. Meeting fatigued days such as this one tended to blend into one another, especially when the daylight faded out so quickly that only darkness remained, with a cold wind to keep one company. Wondering what my son was upto, I rose – my joints creaking like the wooden floor below to see if he needed company.
Just as I was feeling dangerously sentimental about social distancing, its long term effects on the young minds, and all that sort of thing, I heard peals of laughter and the familiar sounds of jumping up and down. There was a FaceTime call in session, and the little fellows were re-enacting a scene from an online game they were playing together. The brawlers, as they called themselves, were making themselves real-life Brawl Stars. The video call was propped up on the globe in the middle of the table, and the swinging adventurers flew in and out of view of the camera. Judging by the sounds of it, the children had adapted with their customary cheer.
“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” ― Albert Einstein
“Hi ma! Want to join us? We are just ummm just umm brawling!”
I looked at the little fellows’ pals squealing and leaping off the sofas in their screens, and I declined the kind offer much to their relief. I headed into the kitchen with a smile on my lips, a tune in my heart, and hope in my being.
Eudaimonia, also spelled eudaemonia, in Aristotelian ethics, is the condition of human flourishing or of living well. Ask Professor Drone to play with children and learn a lesson or two. Happiness lectures indeed!