Fragility of Happiness Attained

I have no idea where this romantic mumbo-jumbo came from. Written in January of 2005, this poem is all kinds of mushy. At 14-years-old, I’d never kissed a man, let along dated one. Still, this came out of me. 

Favorite Picture of Life

I see a man.
He’s kissing a girl,
And they’re in love.
They’ll be together forever.
This is my favorite picture of life.
But I also see another man.
He’s walking away.
Her cries are heard for miles.
Someone has torn,
my favorite picture of life.
This photo, “Lucy” is copyright (c) 2014 Megan Allen and made available under an Attribution 2.0 Genericlicense
This photo, “Lucy” is copyright (c) 2014 Megan Allen and made available under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license

What’s curious to me about the timing of this poem is that I did not believe in love at this point in my life. It wasn’t something I thought would ever happen to me. I had my whole life planned through college and never did it include finding someone to spend my life with.

In a way, maybe my belief love did not exist fueled this poem. Now out of an environment where I needed to be hyper cautious to avoid bullies, my habits aimed at protecting me worked against me. For this, this was characterized by a fear of rejection. Perhaps I crossed love of my bucket list because the risk of rejection still felt too great (ironically, I would be the one to break up with the only two boyfriends I would have in high school).

This poem, while simple, provides and interesting look at life. Taking out the romance, the first half of the poem describes happiness. While it feels permanent, clearly it’s not. In the second half, the relationship has dissolved. I describe that happiness as my favorite picture of life. Happiness is a risk because, when it leaves, you will not only be sad, but remember when you were otherwise.

It’s a crazy idea, I know. In 2005, I still suffered from low self-esteem and depression. These burdens weren’t nearly as large as they were in my middle school years, but they were there. As such, this idea that it was safer to never try achieving that level of happiness made complete sense.

I can say it’s worth it now, but what do I really know? Plenty of people end up just like this poem. Their hearts broken, would they still think the risk was worth it? Wouldn’t it be better to never had tasted that happiness in the first place?

Did you ever go through a period of time where you didn’t believe in love? Do you believe in love now? How do you justify the risk to your heart? 



22 thoughts on “Fragility of Happiness Attained”

  1. The intro in red about happiness being a risk is something I have known to be true for so very long but until now have not seen it expressed. It is precisely the way I feel about happiness, which is of course quite fleeting and temporal, and therefore untrustworthy. I think it’s actually possible to despise “happiness” and what it seems to mean. Not that being unhappy is better, but I’d rather be truly unhappy than falsely the opposite. True happiness never lasts long enough to mean anything, really. I guess maybe it’s all a sham.

    1. I think some happiness is more fleeting than others. For example, the highs from drugs or sex are often fleeting. However, things we work crazy hard for, like careers or relationships, stand a greater chance of sticking around.

      That said, no happiness is guaranteed. If it were, we probably wouldn’t value it so much.

  2. What twaddle, I once sat in a bough of a gnarled old Cypress tree, on a cliff top overlooking the eastern Mediterranean, watching the sum set over an azure sea. It was hot with a sea breeze. It was one of the happiest moments of my life, one which I look back on with fondness, so If I hadn’t taken the risk of going on that trip, I wouldn’t of had that experience.

    So my point, happiness in context, doesn’t necessarily make you sad when you remember the event/circumstance, as a matter of fact it should make you feel a bit better.

    To answer your question, I never did love, I came from a very emotionally cold family, it probably wasn’t for a long while after I got married and went through a lot of turbulence with the complexities of children, job loss, cancer and a whole host of other intra-relationship issues that I actually realised what love for another person really is, it’s a very complex group of emotions that transcend attraction, lust, like.

    It’s like the portrait of a happy time I presented at the beginning. Love is that moment of reflection where you realise a moment of happiness and that it can be visited again.

    1. I can see that, but your example is dependent upon perception. Say two people have a great day overlooking the Mediterranean. One will walk away and always view the memory with happiness. For that person, the happiness continues. The other walks away constantly lamenting they aren’t there now, or lamenting they can’t return. For them, the memory is almost haunting, reminding them of a happiness than have no longer.

      So many happiness really isn’t fleeting. Maybe it’s all about how we reflect on those moments in our past.

  3. “I can say it’s worth it now, but what do I really know? Plenty of people end up just like this poem. Their hearts broken, would they still think the risk was worth it? Wouldn’t it be better to never had tasted that happiness in the first place?

    Did you ever go through a period of time where you didn’t believe in love? Do you believe in love now? How do you justify the risk to your heart?”

    It depends on the definition of that love. If it is the sexual love that people talk about, I don’t think it exists. If on the other hand, it is the love that inspires me to prevent someone from being hurt or killed, then I can say that this love does exist and is what all of my writing is about.

    But I don’t always call it love, because this is confusing in a world where no one agrees on love. Because of this, I call it relevance to communicate that it represents a connection, relation, or link between me and someone else.

    Can I justify the risk involved in loving anyone? No, but at the same time, I don’t try to justify it because I don’t believe that it is something that I chose.

    1. I do think love is confusing. It’s one of those ideas that no one really shares a definition on. Everyone has a different idea. I’m not sure what you mean by “sexual love,” though. I’ve always thought of love as the other throw-yourself-in-front-of-a-bullet-for-someone kind of love.

      It’s interesting that you don’t think love is something chosen. I feel like we can easily run from love if we want, and many do. Many people fear it and run for the hill when it enters their lives. Sometimes, two people are in love then wake up one day out of love. They have to make the choice to find that love again – and I think most can if they both try.

      It’s an odd thing, love.

  4. Sorry my opening two words were an autocorrect fail on my phone, please accept my apology it wasn’t supposed to start like that.

      1. It waa supposed to be trouble and i was going to add more got sidetracked wrote more it scrolled off I posted and then was mortified that I didn’t check what i wrote. Many apologies

  5. It is certainly an old question. Poems of gut wrenching pain from lost love are often written in the moment as well and often we don’t know how they feel 5 years later when they’ve healed.

    Love, the first time you feel it, is by far the most powerful feeling you’ve ever felt and so it’s not surprising that it’s loss would be equal in the amount of pain. But this is what I try to remind myself of through the pain, is that I simply would not be feeling this pain if I did not have experience a great amount of love.

    It is a romantic notion, this idea of permanence when it comes to love. Even though we see relationship falling apart all around us we always think “they must have done something wrong, or they must not really have been in love…this won’t happen to me. My love is real.” Such optimism is perhaps important in making us try harder to make a relationship work, but at the same time it always tends to make us a bit surprised when things end.

    Biologically it is clear that we aren’t meant to love somebody for an enormous length of time or even just one person in our lifetime. In the past, life expectancy was of course lower, and there was no institution of marriage. A mother and father raising a child also had the help of the community in a hunter-gatherer tribe so maintain a strong mother and father bond wouldn’t be necessary as long as both were vested in the survival of their child, and you lived in a community where everybody was invested in the survival of the community. Falling in love and “happily ever after” is rare, and while it’s wonderful when it happens it simply can’t be the norm. People who live together for 60 years in love and happy are not necessarily better people, or emotionally healthier people, so we should probably stop making ourselves and everybody else live up to those standards. TV and movies often don’t help as they reinforce an unrealistic vision of love.

    I think we also must separate happiness from love. Not that love can’t create a good deal of happiness, but there are other things in one’s life that can generate happiness also. I think if we depend too heavily on love for our happiness this can make life a lot more difficult to handle in the long term. In my experience those who have the healthiest views towards love are ones who recognize it’s impermanence and the impermanence of life in general. Such people also tend to live in the moment more instead of living too much in the future or past. Nothing is perfect in this world. Even love. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s hard. It’s not for the feint of heart. 🙂

    1. ” I think if we depend too heavily on love for our happiness this can make life a lot more difficult to handle in the long term.”

      I would disagree and instead say that people have the wrong idea of love. Love is more than that between two life partners. It’s the love of a guardian for their child, of friends, of family. We are social creatures, and caring for one another, bonding with one another, is what makes us happy.

      At the same time, I get what you’re saying. People should also know they can be happy on their own. Reading a book, taking a walking in a forest, all these things can create just as much happiness.

      1. I agree that love is all those things…in context I was talking about romantic love only, my point simply being that there are many other things out there that can bring happiness besides romantic love.

  6. I have been single for nearly a year now but because I was in a relationship before then, I still believe in live and my time will come again. If unsuccessful then it will be the biggest roller-coaster ride you ever experience but it can only take one special person to light up your life and have your whole life, full of happiness. Always trust with your heart in this one.

    1. I have never had my heart broken, but I like to think that love never dies. Instead, the person changes. Like, we love a person and we love them because of how we see them. When they break up with us, that vision changes a bit. They are no longer the same as the person we loved. That person is gone, in the past. The body that person existed in now houses a different person.

      I think we can always look back and choose to view happy memories with someone we loved with more happiness. If we choose to focus on being grateful for the happiness we had instead of the fact we no longer have it, those memories can remain good ones.

      At least, I like to think so.

  7. There was never a time I didn’t believe in love per se. However, for most of my childhood all the way up to about the time I met J I didn’t care about love. It was sort of something I was putting off caring about because I felt there were far more interesting things for me to concern myself with than if I was going to be loved by someone.

    I think that it’s most important to love yourself before you go looking for someone else to do it. That way, you already know what’s amazing about you and if/when others notice it’ll build you up instead of set a foundation. In this way, even if things don’t work out in the end, you still have someone there who’s always got your best interest at heart. ❤

    1. “I think that it’s most important to love yourself before you go looking for someone else to do it. ”

      I agree. And that way you don’t loose you individuality. I think people should always have a life outside of their relationship, even if that’s a club or something that the other isn’t involved in. We should love ourselves first. I don’t think that would make losing love painless, but it would hopefully make it less so.

  8. I also think that trying to find a time when you were happy, when you realize you aren’t happy, also indirectly drives you to live in the past. To be happy like you were before, you would wear different clothes, change hobbies to those that were in the past, and live in the memories of the past to make you happy, and that’s great. But there’s only one problem. You’re trying to make the past happen in the present. (This is going out from your intro to the post, and I’m not addressing love.) You won’t be able to make new memories, and everything will be clouded by the results of the past when everything was different: expectations, environment, and emotions.
    That’s what I realized this summer, and that’s what I’m trying to change. 🙂

    1. I think that there are positives in every negative situation. Sometimes there may be more of one than the other, but we can always choose to focus on what is positive about the present instead of dwelling on the past. I do think positive thinking makes a huge difference in life. Too often we are self-fulfilling prophecies. Someone who is depressed because they are out of work may become more and more depressed and therefor less and less likely to search for a job. Since they feel so down on themselves, what they right in cover letters and resumes may not show off the best of them. On the flip side, someone who strives to stay positive may look at their situation as an opportunity, crafting their cover letters and resumes in confidence.

      Positive and forward thinking is really they way to go.

    1. I’m sorry. I don’t think I can say more than that without knowing what happened, but I’m sure you’ll find love that leads to happiness at some point.

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