“Le vent se lève! il faut tenter de vivre!” (The wind is rising! We must try to live!) – Paul Valéry
Since the very birth of artistic mannerisms, expression, and analytic thought, humanity has, both consciously and unconsciously, developed a natural desire to be sad. Of course no one wants to be sad, at least not permanently, but it’s not the idea of sadness itself that attracts the quaint tendencies of our species, but rather, so I believe, the idea of emerging from the harrowing depths of sadness towards an illusory happiness, the very endeavor and pursuit of happiness that springs from sadness, that drives the mind towards sadness. So consequently, one begins to strive towards sadness as a way to procure happiness. But it begs two questions: If happiness is obtainable through sadness, then is sadness really that miserable? And what does happiness and sadness consist of, if not their superficial definitions? To me, the answer to such profound questions will never be exposed to the light of day, though several people will argue for the meaning of and against the notions of happiness and sadness, promoting their illusory self-help genre or preying on their mental states as a way to establish their own agendas, but to me, all of their arguments are meaningless, for I find that happiness and sadness are subjective to each and every individual, that happiness and sadness shouldn’t be defined by a universal standard or norm, and in this way my own pursuit of happiness and sadness becomes simultaneously simplified and complicated.
Karl Marx believed that happiness would inherently be procured through the establishment of a true communist regime, which would have been procured through natural authoritarianism. Albert Camus believed that happiness would only be achieved when one ceases to think or pursue happiness altogether, for it is the pursuit of happiness that undermines its own grace. While fictional character Bojack Horseman achieved happiness, temporarily, through doing what he loved best: acting. Of all the mentioned people here, from Marxist philosopher to a talking horse, their idea of happiness, though harrowingly diverse as it spans from socio-economic reform to pure hedonism, are all subjective to their own personal preferences and desires. And most importantly they provide meaning and purpose to their lives and motivate them to go forth through the unknown depths of life. To critique and judge their pursuits of happiness is to suppress human life altogether, and thus would, in my opinion, be even worse than imposing absolute communist rule.
I mention this aspect of happiness because I find it necessary to establish the free will and potentials of human happiness before I mention my own sources of happiness and how these sources of happiness help me through, not only the environment in which I live, but life itself, and how critiquing other people’s sources of happiness becomes immoral. I only survive my challenges of life so long as the sources of my motivating happiness remain relevant and meaningful.
Throughout my entire life, I never maintained having many friends at once and so, as you might expect, I spent most of my time on my own. At home, my parents weren’t often around, and even now they no longer live with me, so even at home, the place where I was most free, I often spent alone. It wasn’t quite the loneliness that began to bother me, but rather the idea that I could be not alone that began to ruin me. But, from here on out, I’ll refer to this feeling as loneliness as a way to simplify things.
In order to distract myself from my lurking loneliness, I had to find ways and activities that I could throw my entire self upon that would transcend my mind from loneliness towards a happiness I could live for.
Two winters ago, my most prominent and warmest source of happiness arrived at my house, cold and terrified, crammed in a cage. The evident creature of which I speak would soon become my greatest friend and companion, my dearest cat, London (Nickname is Dondon). When she first arrived at our home, she was absolutely terrified and anxious by being surrounded with unfamiliar faces. Throughout the entire winter, I spent hours, days, and weeks on end trying to comfort her through her time settling down in our home. At one point I laid on the floor with her for hours. Through all the days of winter, all I focused on was getting closer and dearer to Dondon, trying to nurture her and make her feel as though this was her home. After spending endless days full of passionate effort with my cat, we gradually developed a close bond and soon she saw me as her friend, one whom she could turn to for love and scratches. And in turn, she became my most dearest friend and comfiest and warmest pillow. Everyday after school, I would immediately focus on Dondon and spend hours with her to drown away the exhaustion and stress from the recent morning. Ever since Dondon has arrived in my life, I have found happiness much more procurable. Dondon has given me a reason to live, for if I were to die, Dondon would be sent elsewhere, and thus her mere presence shines a light upon the crude darkness of reality.
After Dondon and I had developed a beloved bond, one mid-spring morning, she abruptly gave birth to three adorable little kittens and again the cycle of nurturing, attentively caring, bonding, and cat-loving began. Now not only did I have Dondon to live for, but I was now responsible for nurturing three little kittens. At times they can be stressful to maintain and care for, but despite their chaos, every second I spend with them has been worth living for. Their soft purring, gentle fur, blissful naiveté, and warm amber eyes have never disappointed to relieve my stress and drown away all perturbations that would have bothered me. Without them I would be utterly miserable.
Oftentimes, in my days of uncertainty, my emotions and inner self become ineffable and in my mind my thoughts and emotions panic for want of an escape. And so I turn to my piano. My piano is able to express and bellow out my emotions that would otherwise be confined in my dreadful mind. It perfectly expresses certain feelings that I am dying to let out. I confide in my piano that which I am unable to confide in humanity. I pour out my entirety for my piano to collect and throw back at me in harmony and a quaint sentiment. I often feel as though my piano possesses a regal soul, untouched by human nature, for perhaps there is no other soul that is able to understand me as sincerely as my piano does. My piano, a Pramberger grand piano gifted to me by my parents a while back, sits quietly in my living room, awaiting to be touched by my dear hand. I echo in the halls the graceful notes of my piano, of Liszt’s Liebesträum and Chopin’s Nocturnes, and in turn my piano transcends me to a musical realm in which my emotions run freely in between the melodies and I can embody my entire self without fear or worry. My piano carries a soul that comforts me and allows me to express what I thought was inexpressible.
But not only do I enjoy playing the beautiful notes that spring from my piano, but I take great pleasure in hearing others play piano pieces that I am incapable of playing and classical orchestration pieces. Classical music conveys the intricate simplicity of regal music, untouched by contemporary words that are oftentimes incapable of expressing fully what I wish to project. Listening to classical music, such as but not limited to Mahler’s Symphony No. 5, Schubert’s Winterreise, Shostakovich‘s (Significant side note: Shostakovich composed during the time of the Soviet Union, under Stalin’s “reign of terror.” During this time, contemporary composers had been heavily censored or even persecuted for their music. Shostakovich managed to produce many profound pieces during this time despite the harrowing challenges of authoritarianism. In some pieces, he even mocked Stalin and the communist’s censorship. His perseverance has greatly motivated me to not let anything stop me from doing what I love best. ALSO, I was going to link a video that talked about Shostakovich’s life through this tyrannical regime, but ironically enough, the video was taken down, for the second time, by YouTube. The video was great though, how lamentable such a fine video was tarnished because of censorship.) Gadfly Suite, and Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, transcends me to yet another musical realm, but in this realm I am free of the problems that lurk in my reality and promote the feeling of blissful naiveté that distracts me from dreadful sentiments that were once constantly at my back. A while back I read Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, and a line that was taken from Andrew Marvell’s poem that read, “At my back I always hear, time’s winged chariot hurrying near!” attached itself to me because I found it so relatable to me at the time. But now whenever I listen to classical music and I hear its familiar warmth and grace, at my back I no longer heard times winged chariot hurrying near, but instead with music I find that life has become so severely dear! Beyond the “superficial” melodies of classical music, their meanings, backstories, and their historical contexts have always appealed to me and have allowed me to experience another aspect of life that has since pushed me forth through life itself.
On the topic of classical music though, I would like to mention particularly Tchaikovsky and Chopin, though not only for their music, but for something that has profoundly comforted me. It is said by scholars and musical historians that, during their time, Tchaikovsky and Chopin were homosexuals (no association with each other). Though tragically, during their time, their societies held high contempt and prejudice against homosexuality and so, out of fear of tarnishing their reputations and risking the safety of their family, the two composers had to attempt to hide and suppress their homosexual desires. But despite the pressure and stress from their tyrannical surroundings and contemporaries, the two composers still secretly pursued their homosexual love and embodied many of their romantic affairs in the music they composed and published. Tchaikovsky, in particular, strikes a sentimental yet profound chord within me. He was deeply in love with his pupil, Iosif Kotek, and wrote and dedicated his Violin Concert in D Major to Kotek as a solemn gift of love. Recently it had been revealed that Tchaikovsky’s death could have been by suicide as a way to escape the overwhelming pressure and stress of being a homosexual in such a hateful world. But despite constant fear lurking in his shadows, Tchaikovsky pursued his desirable love for Kotek which shows to me that love prevails through all challenges. Ever since I was in elementary school, I have always questioned my homosexuality, and though I have been engaged within a homosexual relationship once before, the state regarding my sexuality and romantic affairs remain a harrowing uncertainty. But never in this time and world have I felt comfortable in publicizing my possible homosexuality for the very reasons that tormented Tchaikovsky and Chopin into suppressing their homosexual love. Seeing people like Tchaikovsky flourish in the musical world and pursuing his love despite the challenges of being a homosexual makes me feel less alone in this vast and malevolent world. It gives me hope that being who I am is absolutely okay, and that it is this very world in which humanity has seized that allows for hate and prejudice. I believe that everybody deserves an equal opportunity at love no matter the conditions. And it is people like Tchaikovsky and millions of others around the world who support that idea that console me through my homosexual crisis and assists me through living in a society that quite possibly condemns people like me. It gives me hope that perhaps someday, people will be given equal opportunities at love and happiness, and it is such hope that pulls me forth through life. Tchaikovsky’s graceful embodiment of love in his Violin Concerto makes me happy, for to suppress love is to tarnish happiness and human life altogether.
Below is a touching video that briefly explains the profound experiences Tchaikovsky underwent up until the production of his Violin Concerto in D Major.
I have been called cynical towards the humanity around me by many, but there is a single human soul that ignites in me the vague hope that I have left in humanity. That person is my best and dearest friend, Eden. There isn’t another person or soul that has treated me with the same warm kindness and compassion that Eden has showed me. Since first I met them, they have always dearly cared for me and treated me as though I truly matter. Recently we went to Universal Studios and an asian festival together, and in those brief yet profound moments, I was truly the happiest I had ever been. There isn’t another way I’d rather spend my time than to spend every second with whom I love and hold most dearest, Eden. Oftentimes, Eden and I go on morning and evening dog walks (with their dog), and in these simple yet profound instances, the beauty of life and human nature shine bright in the green leaves and blue skies that settle on the pleasant day. Such simplicity allows me to appreciate the smallest moments in life, to make significance of such moments, and has pushed me to live for these very moments. The walks are peaceful and are filled with mesmerizing words exchanged between our star crossed souls. Hand in hand, we frolic through the luscious green fields of the local park while we fill the air with a laughter that drowns away all the worries in the world. Being with Eden, no matter what we do, brings such a moving smile upon my face and opens up a new, rather enjoyable, aspect of live worth living for. Eden’s gentle eyes and comforting laughter fill my mind and push away all the thoughts that once perturbed and stressed me. Even thinking about Eden lights a joy in me that knows no equal, a joy that I have grown to hold dear. There isn’t another person I’d rather live and die for than that very soul that has become my entire life, Eden. Eden Eden Eden. Without Eden, I would not have survived the challenges of life that have brought me to this point, where I am able to write this very blog. For a world without Eden is a world without color; a world without light; a world without warmth; a world without joy; and a world without life.
Perhaps and probably in a few years, I will have changed and so too will these notions that currently make me happy. But until then, these are the things that truly make me happy to where I am able to survive the challenge of life. These are the subjective notions that my happiness consists of and these are the subjective notions I hold above all else. The wind always rises, and always must we seek a way to survive the rising draft of sentimentality!