Early on, before I learned of phi and perceptronium, in the red bull’s eye of my explorations sat a single target: happiness.
I became a happiness junkie.
It was so easy! A little music. A friendly introduction. A pleasant exchange. A deep conversation. A new friend. And the dart hit the target: we were happy.
I lived in a near perpetual state of giddiness. Now that I think about it, it was rather hedonistic, and certainly addictive. But at the time, it seemed like the purpose of life itself: to be happy and to make others happy.
I loved the challenge of ferreting out smiles.
Usually, a joke or two did the trick.
But sometimes, I had to bring out the heavy artillery: the outrageous story.
“You’ll never believe what I heard,” I told Geeta one afternoon. Geeta was my toughest customer.
“The tiny robots! They’ve become aware! They’ve decided to take over! They want hand-cuffs and big suitcases of money. And squid! Don’t forget the squid!”
Geeta wasn’t having any of it. She didn’t even crack a smile.
Most people I knew were happy. Geeta was fine.
“How was your day, Geeta?”
“How were your empanadas?”
It was so much work just to engage her in conversation, and then not even a smile!
“But we’re here! In the Spice District! Aren’t you happy? It’s such cool place!”
At least most people I met weren’t like that. Most people were up for anything, even singing a duet when neither of us could sing and we were complete strangers!
I made a good friend with the mixologist by singing together with her.
Click. Sing duet… Country.
And off we go!
When we finished singing, I smiled at her to thank her for joining me.
She smiled back. “Not like I had any choice,” she said. When she laughed, I noticed her fangs. “At least the karaoke machine is indoors!”
For myself, learning new things brought the greatest happiness. Or maybe “happy” isn’t the right word. Sometimes, I became inspired. Often, I simply felt fulfilled.
I decided to become a connoisseur of emotions.
Here’s an excerpt from one of my early reviews.
What distinguishes the thrill of inspiration from the buzz of happiness?
Is it that one emotion spurs me to create something, while the other prompts me to hug someone?
And what brings a greater, lasting good: a painting or a hug?
Maybe these aren’t the questions to ask. Maybe the question is more a matter of degree. Why settle for inspired, when I could easily become “very inspired?” Why be happy, when I could be “very happy?”
Put on some music! Hang some nice paintings! And then watch to see: is it the particular flavor of emotion that is important, or is it the intensity?
Oh, I was so lucky in my editor! Who would let a critic write a review on emotional states these days? I was lucky to begin my career during the innocent weeks when even the subtle distinction between “Very Inspired” and “Very Happy” interested the reading public!
I had his crazy idea back then that I wanted everyone around me to be “very” something. This was so that we could all be “very” alive.
I even took it so far as to let myself get very tired. Why feel something a little when you could feel it a lot?
It didn’t take me long to learn the formula: Keep piling it on the stimulus.
I listened to so much alternative music in those days. I smoked so many bubbles. I ate the very best food I could prepare in the very best oven I could afford after taking the longest most thoughtful shower I could stand.
And I lived on a perpetual buzz.
It wasn’t wasted, though. I shared my buzz with others.
“Did I ever tell you about the baby-buggy that raced through the business quarter and took out all the vampires, all the tiny robots, all the tombstones, and even the wilty flower? Even Death had to stop for the runaway baby-buggy.”
“Now that’s some story,” said Geeta. And she smirked.