THE DAWNING OF HAPPINESS
Continuing on from my last blog posting, here is another extract from my current (yet-to-be-edited and completed) book – THE WISE OLD MAN & THE YOUNG KID – A Guide to Living a Positive Life.
The premise of the book is that an elderly man, Davey, a successful author in the process of writing his autobiography, is sharing his life’s experiences – especially his mistakes and what he’s learned from them – with Noah, a 15 year old kid. They meet most days at the local jetty where they go fishing. They have become friends.
Davey uses Noah (an old soul) as a sounding board as he progressively writes about his life. He hopes his book will assist readers, especially young adults, avoid the disasters he’s encountered in his life as a result of bad choices and wrong-minded thinking,
The following extract begins with a section from Davey’s autobiography.
My battle with depression started when I was very young, even though I had no conscious awareness of this debilitating mental condition until I was nearly 50 years of age. Certainly my formative experiences as a young boy at school were major contributors to my increasingly negative attitude. As was my parents’ inability to be the role models and advisers I needed to assist in traversing the minefield of growing up. No doubt the subterranean, but palpable tension between my parents on the home front and my perception of my mother’s inability to express affection and my father’s disinterest in me were significant contributors to my sense of isolation, lack of love, lack of support and powerlessness. Instead of using these challenges and setbacks that threatened to overwhelm me as opportunities to learn and grow from, it was probably inevitable, being so young, I readily chose to become a victim of them.
No wonder my cheerful enjoyment of life had virtually evaporated by the time I commenced high school. It’s not nice waking up every morning feeling under siege, imagining threats on all fronts and with little to look forward to. To survive in the cruel, fearful world I saw around me, meant I had to be constantly living off my wits and honing my survival skills to get through each day.
After I left school and started work, my repertoire of survival skills focused on pretending to be someone I wasn’t – outwardly brash, self-confident and all-knowing. I didn’t have to think too deeply to realize I was a phony and was just fooling everyone. Everyone that is, except the man in the mirror.
Totally self-absorbed and self-centered, numero uno was always top priority. I took, I didn’t give. And furthermore, I didn’t seem to care who I took advantage of along the way, or if someone else was hurt (especially females). Just put that down to unfortunate and incidental collateral damage.
Despite an endless pursuit of pleasure, addictions and distractions, I couldn’t hide away from the person I thought I was. Nor did I find lasting pleasure or happiness. I was simply looking in the wrong places for the answers to my problems and for happiness.
I now realize I had shut the door on ever being happy, simply because I thought I didn’t deserve happiness. Despite my pathetic denials about my self-defeating behavior, subconsciously I’m sure I believed I had a debt to pay because of how I’d treated others. And until that debt was paid with me suffering, I didn’t deserve what I really wanted – enduring happiness. Until I suffered enough I couldn’t be right with myself and with others (let alone with God, if he existed). In my distorted mind, I’m sure I thought I could redeem myself and pay my debt by imposing pain on myself, through my self-doubts and deep-seated unworthiness and the disappointments of life that accompanied them. Subconsciously I thought my self-imposed suffering would somehow make me deserving of happiness.
Crazy stuff? Indeed. However, my ever-growing burden of guilt made me think and do strange things.
Fast forward to my second marriage break-up and my ‘God experience’ that became a turning point in my life.
“So, after your second marriage broke up and you experienced that wake-up call and turning point, was that when you became happy?” asked Noah.
“Ha! Ha! I wish!” said Davey. “No, it happened ever so gradually over many years in baby steps and stumbles, and lots of stops and starts. The process of changing one’s entrenched attitudes – at least for me – was a lengthy and difficult process. My ego resistance to believing I was deserving of happiness was so firmly embedded, it took another 20 years of working on myself before there was even a reluctant acceptance of the fact that I not only deserved happiness, happiness was, in fact, my and everyone else’s entitlement.”
“Gee, that’s a long time.” said Noah.
“I suppose so. But remember I had lots of knots to untie in the silk cord. However, I remember very clearly a break-through moment that opened the door and gave me an experience of genuine and lasting happiness.”
“Why, what happened?”
TO BE CONTINUED