Kids Corner


Because I Am Happy





I am in the delightful and darling company of my ten, seven and four year old cousins in the back of a family van. All is relatively quiet until Pharell William’s “Happy” song suddenly reverberates through the speaker system.

“The happy song!!” squeals Jasleen, the youngest of the bunch. “Didi, sing with me!” she requests as she taps my arm with excitement.

And suddenly a chorus of children’s voices permeates my ears with the asynchronous beats of claps and intermittent carefree chuckles of childish giddiness.

Because I’m happy

Clap along if you know what happiness is to you …

Because I’m happy

I ponder the words for a moment. I want to be happy -- it was my answer to a question that was asked of me New Year’s Day 2014.

What do you want to do this year? I want to be happy, I replied.

Doesn’t everyone?

Am I happy?

What does it really mean to be happy?

*   *   *   *   *

sukh kao maagai sabh …

"Everyone begs for happiness; no one asks for suffering

But in the wake of happiness, there comes great suffering

The self-willed manmukhs do not understand this"

*   *   *   *   *

Eight years ago, as a Second Year medical student, I recall sitting in my psychiatry class learning about mood disorders, specifically of Bipolar Disorder, a psychiatric condition in which an individual experiences periods of depression and periods of extreme happiness (euphoria or mania).

Being a visual learner, I vividly recall the graphical representation that my professor displayed depicting the nature of the disease. The x axis indicated time and the y axis indicated mood. The graph cycled from top to bottom in a sinusoidal wave fashion with peaks signifying euphoria and valleys representing depression, always crossing the x axis of equilibrium but never establishing itself there.

I, too, cycle. The amplitude of my emotional experience is much more diminished and therefore within the realms of social acceptance and tolerance, of normalcy.

But I cycle, nevertheless. My mind’s goal is to become a parallel line several notches above the x axis migrating within the dimension of time towards infinity. Eternal happiness, my mind calls it.

With the tremendous capacity of brain power and intellect it holds, it is ridiculous to think that it strives for such idealism and unrealism in the face of 32 years of experience that reveals time and again that decline will be sure to follow at some point in time.

But my mind continues to strive, unrelentingly so. After all, the pursuit of this happiness is its right.

*   *   *   *   *

sukh dukh summ kar jitneyed …

"Those who see pain and pleasure as one and the same, find peace; they are pierced through by the Shabad."

*   *   *   *   *

My body is always attempting to achieve homeostasis. It is the natural order of things. It manages my core temperature to a comfortable 98.6 degrees -- the perfect thermostat. It maintains the pressure of blood that flows through the vast maze that is my circulatory system -- 120/80 mmHg.

Why should my mind be any different? It should strive to maintain an internal calm equilibrium, devoid of the transient peaks and plateaus and valleys. My mind should not be ever happy or eternally depressed, but in its homeostatic state, at peace -- in essence, the x axis.

It must accept with serenity that there exists a greater, natural Order of the universe and that all that occurs is destined from this Order and is good; that whether things happen as I like them or whether they occur despite my disapproval, they will occur regardless and for the ultimate good.

And with such faith and submission, or hukam man-na, the sharp, poignant boundaries that define pain and pleasure will begin to fade.

*   *   *   *   *

Because I’m happy

Clap your hands if you feel that happiness is the truth

Because I’m happy

Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do

*   *   *   *   *

My mind is not convinced and cannot submit to such intangible, illogical notions.

It should, but it cannot. It will not. It is too stubborn to ascertain. It continues to experience life’s fortes and nadirs.

As I sit here in the back of a family van with Pharrell William’s voice singing in the background, I plot my graphical locale. I am at the peak of happiness: I am loved and I love. I work joyfully. I thrive with good health. I am financially comfortable. This is my mind’s truth. It frolics in the false sense of security that this will be maintained indefinitely and convinces me that this indeed is my permanent homeostatic state.

As the states of my affairs change with passing time, and I am stripped of my satisfactions, so are the curtains of my denial. The dark, grim journey down the steep slope of decline begins.

For now, I relish in the fact that I am happy. I revel in euphoria. I put my hands together to clap because this happiness is my current, transient, temporary truth. Clapping is what happy people do.

But, I am not at peace. I do not want to wait until death to rest in it. And so, I put my hands together once more, this time in earnest prayer beseeching my Guru for his blessings so that my mind may for once humbly gravitate towards His feet -- the coordinates: (32 years,0).

sukh dukh hi te amar ateeta … 

"The Gurmukh is immortal, untouched by pleasure and pain

He obtains the home of his own inner being"

Dedicated to my loving mother who listens patiently to my pains and my pleasures and discerns them as her own.

Happy Mother’s Day!

May 11, 2014

Conversation about this article

1: Sangat Singh  (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), May 11, 2014, 7:14 PM.

A lovely write up, Felicia Ji. I have been reading 'Kathria Santa' biography of Sant Sangat Singh Ji of Kamalia. You must belong to Kamalia and to the illustrious family of Bhai Shamu Sachiar as a forefather who had Bhai Jodhka Sachiar. My mother was a Jodhka too. In 'Katria Santa' there are examples of wonderful mothers that played the pivotal role. That would be a subject for a possible article for paying tribute to those wonderful mothers.

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