Chris could not believe his eyes. That they were in fact still eyes seemed fairly certain. And it was equally certain that his brain was reporting their message accurately. Yet what he saw, he could not believe. How could it all be gone?
To be fair, “how?” is easy to answer. There are any number of ways the “how?” would have, could have worked. It’s not so much the answer to “how?” that brings comfort when something goes missing, any more than “when?” or “who?” But it’s one of those carrot questions that dangles just out of reach when the mind blinds itself to the rest of the world to pursue what-once-was-and-now-is-not.
It might be easy to judge, Chris thought briefly as he started to judge himself. It’s not like this is the first thing that has been stolen from him. And anyone might think it would be silly to miss something; it’s not like a “something” could make you happy. And this loss was no different in that respect.
It didn’t bring happiness… it was happiness.
It’s true, money can’t buy you happiness. Those who have it would never sell it for mere slips of paper.
Chris’s mind skipped to the next slide in its presentation of unfathomable dilemmas. Maybe this isn’t where he left it… Happiness is a strange thing; if just a little bit of happiness exists in a place, in time it will eventually fill the space completely. But you can’t check in on it. If you sit there and stare at the happiness, it will never seem to grow.
It would be pretty hard too to just sit and stare at the happiness. When you’re near it, you have to drink it in. And in that too there’s something strange about happiness. It never seems to grow inside a person. Maybe it’s too dark, maybe it doesn’t react well to stomach acid, Chris has never quite figured that one out. You just have to be careful to only be happy when you need to be happy and not any more than that.
He’s met quite a few of the addicts. People who have chased happiness so long that they barely even feel the effects any more. It’s easy to see why the happiness doesn’t grow in them. Sometimes he thinks they just want the happiness so no one else can have it.
No… This is definitely where he left it last. He tried to move it around, but it’s so hard to find good hiding places. Happiness changes things, and it’s very difficult to leave it anywhere for long without everyone knowing where it is. Apparently, he left it here just long enough.
Chris had heard a myth that once happiness was everywhere, but people started to drink it in faster than it could grow. When it was finally discovered that the happiness was disappearing, folks decided to set up a reservoir for the happiness that was left. Many people brought their happiness to the same place and there was plenty for everyone when they needed it. Everyone simply agreed to not let the level fall too low.
But this fountain of happiness soon began to drain. People were constantly watching it, waiting for it to rise above the low level mark. And eventually they stopped waiting even for that. They began to steal happiness from the fountain, and when that was gone, they stole it from each other.
Soon everyone had to hide their happiness. People who had it had to pretend they didn’t, or else someone would steal it from them. So even the happy people had to act like they weren’t.
Chris didn’t know if the myth was true. It was true that he had pretended for a very long time that he had no happiness so that no one would take what little he had. Thankfully, all those years of pretending would finally pay off; he knew exactly how to act now that his happiness was gone.
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