Wednesday, December 10, 2014

"Oh, Well."

The "OhWell" hat.

Am I happy?  As a matter of fact, not really.  And I'm not at all ashamed of stating that.  Recently, on a whim, I viewed a 2011 documentary called "Happy"., streaming on Netflix, into the comfort of my own beautiful, safe, clean, quiet home.  It's been on my distant "to watch" list for a while, and it occurred to me that I might tackle some of the sadness, anger, anxiety, and angst I've been feeling lately.  And, by the way, I use the term "lately" loosely, as in, anywhere from one month to one half of my entire life--nitpickers beware.
"O, H!"

 I often get to thinking about this happiness thing, and I usually resort to some gauge of happiness built upon fulfillment, purposefulness, connectedness, gratitude, (blah blah blah).  And when I look at my self-evaluation through that lens, I almost always fare quite well.  Nonetheless, there are people near and far in my life who would probably accuse me of being downright depressed, maybe cranky, blah blah blah. A lot.   Take, for example, my housemates (not including the cats).  How can I not be more grateful? Or more cheerful?Why don't I just get medicated like all of those other used-to-be-sad-people? Well, I am grateful, I am cheerful, and I'm as self-medicated as I'll ever be (I hope).  But I'm still mad, sad, anxious, disappointed, and disgusted--with so much that I see, read, hear, feel.

"H, W"

 So, back to the documentary.  All you need to see is a scratch of a description and you know what you're going to end up with. Happiness is relative. Happiness is part chemical, part environmental. Happiness is available to everyone as long as they have their basic needs met (ahem, America). Happiness is for those who are intrinsically instead of extrinsically motivated.  So, no surprise that this filmmaker follows through with the findings of his profiled experts to explain how happiness (and lack of it) can be found in far flung places (Okinawa, Denmark, Namibia, Louisiana)….  Hmmm.  So I went ahead and watched the whole thing, waiting for at least a nod to the question that always wracks my mind when such topics come up.
 So this is the question that I would expect anybody to try to answer if they made an entire film about happiness on the globe: How does one create happiness in a world where the injustices are crushing? How does one live in happiness when surrounded by information that the destruction to the globe will be so total and complete within a relatively short amount of time that we won't have water, clean air, food, honey, fuel? How do we find comfort in a world where our own happiness rests upon denying the injustices imparted onto others every day.  How do we find comfort in this world when this injustice is played out in the news every day? In this documentary, some attention is paid to how families overcome tragedy and persevere, but I waited and watched for the question that always gives me pause.  If the powers that be, the powers that support our very "ability to have enough" are creating this massive destruction, violence, then what of happiness?  By the end of the film, the crickets were buzzing. Experts consulted, examples given, the greater question, "how to create happiness amidst awfulness, powerlessness, rage, chronic injustice", never addressed, even cursorily (which I would have expected at the bare minimum). So…there you have it, flapping in the wind, as usual.
 When we celebrated my fortieth birthday, quite a few years ago, there was some other pivotal news watershed moment that created a lot of angst for many folks such as myself.  I created a bumper sticker called "Oh Well", and it's still my favorite.  So much so that this Fall I put the finishing touches on the reversible "Oh Well" knit cap!    What better way to sum up a sane reaction to an insane world.  So, there, "Oh Well."  Now just go out and be happy!

***and, LF, you may ask, what does this have to do with the Unencumbered Woman????  Quite Frankly, as I see others around me toil to behave as if nothing is going on, I scratch my head, wondering, "What does it take to pretend that it's not all falling apart?"  "What is the cost, personally, to swallowing emotions, reactions, rage, etc.." The cost, naturally, is incredibly high, and the cost of calling out our disgrace, disgust, anger, is even higher.  So, friend, I guess part of The Unencumbered Woman thing is saying it, being it, doing it.  There's a permission to admitting the free-fall that we are in, that's a thing. That's a thing that I'm trying to do.



  1. Ah dear Karen! We Must Talk! Funny, this post. I just pulled out my Oh Well sticker yesterday, trying to find the most prominent place to display it! Love you, girl. Are you training at all? I am going to do a 13.1 on 1.31. Right here in good ole Suwanee. Want to join me? I am painfully slow, but still lifting my feet.

  2. Love you. You NEED to get on a bike (with me alongside!) If you could escape in Feb, LOVe to take you on an amazing vacation....SERIOUSLY!!! We got room for 2 more.... I will call you SOON (or sooner!) to entice you.