by L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B.

In spite of full-length hopes and earnest and conscientious exertion, historically it is assured you’ll not get through the day without one set-back or another. Just when you think you’ve succeeded aligning the factious elements of life, something comes along to scotch it. Such predictable calamity fuels mercurial elevations, guaranteeing not eternal happiness but persistent instability. It’s a rock-ribbed road, life.

Approaching perturbation philosophically is all very well, but my experience is that it is a persuasion reserved for hindsight only and does little to tranquillize current agitation. Nonetheless we continue to indulge ourselves in the perceived luxury of potency howsoever ephemeral, and however likely it is a deception. Some might argue that to do otherwise effectively marries us to the prospect of inevitable ruin, hardly the makings of a spring in one’s step. It seems though that the condition humaine is guided rather by general optimism than by pervasive gloom. And no matter the regular gutters of despair, we day by day prosecute an undying struggle towards irrepressible felicity.

Not so long ago it was reckoned the domain of eternal happiness was confined to spiritual life after death; to imagine that such euphoria was attainable whilst our corporeal existence yet prevailed was incongruous at best, not to mention the overriding submission to ultimate loss. But thinking has changed. Many are not about to abandon the possibility of elation before the end of the world as we now know it. As such we daily divert ourselves along the path of this one-way street with countless undertakings, relationships, purchases and general satisfaction of our desires. The melancholic truth is that even those diversions are unsustainable in the end, so it becomes a matter of delay only.

Having said that, there is some strength in acknowledging the futility of it all if for no other reason than that it encourages us to get the most out of it while we can. To the dedicated hedonist this is a licence to steal, with about the same consequences unless one’s zestfulness is diluted by the further concept that true pleasure rises above being completely bent upon personal demolition. There is after all a difference between going up to the trough and getting into it.

The real imbalance of life is that we are perpetually doomed to disappointment. Having a good day now and again is more the exception than the rule, and all that business about some rain having to fall into everyone’s life just doesn’t make it for me. So the unavoidable conclusion is that eternal happiness is either a myth or not something we mortals will ever achieve. As an arm-chair thinker I would be reluctant to retail the possibility of eternal happiness to anyone whom I considered a friend. Reluctantly I am instead bound to trot out the usual theses of expecting problems, seeing difficulties as opportunity to open new doors, to accept one’s fate and so on. Oh, and if you do by chance have an especially good day, relish it!