Isn’t a Warm Gun or Slipping from Death’s Sleepy Jaws

by Shaun Terry

“And don’t tell me you’ll make me happy. I know what happiness is and it’s nothing you can provide. Don’t tell me you’re giving me something. Because I know what it means: you really just want to take.

“You think you can make me feel these amazing things, and maybe you can. I’d love that, I’d give a lot to feel those things right now, but you had to go and fuck it up by thinking this grotesque thing and saying it aloud. You think happiness is fireworks and orgasms and a lifetime of glee, but that’s not what happiness is. What you’re talking about is an escape for you. That’s you running away from what happiness really is.

“Happiness is soft, quiet; it’s a glow that the whole world gives to you and that you give back to it. Happiness is seeing life’s sadnesses and crying just a little and making the best of things. Happiness is when you look in the mirror and you like the person looking back not because of anything you’ve accomplished or how you rank against anyone else, but because you’re part of the only universe we have and that universe is a place full of wonder, and you don’t know where the gravitational pull from the subatomic particles at the edge of your skin end and where far-off galaxies begin. Happiness is when you know that you are and you know that everything else is, and it’s all as it should be, and you make peace with your role in all that. Happiness is knowing how to be whatever you’re being in that moment, with no desired outcome and no pushing against the thin fibers that hold this moment between the moment before and the moment after because those fibers are all that there ever are and ever will be.

“Don’t tell me about happiness, you foolish louse. I want you to be happy. Everyone wants you to be happy, and you get so close to it, but then you run. You run to the shallow end of the pool where you get to be smarter, better-looking, funnier, more clever, more charming than everyone else and you think that you’re doing a good job, instead of looking at yourself without criticism or self-congratulation.

“Well, until you figure out that the only thing that will ever matter is that everything is perfect and that means you, too, you’re just going to keep running back and forth — no! You think you’re spiraling, always moving up in this repetitive, familiar motion, but are you? I don’t know. Maybe you’re learning things, but what does it matter if you don’t learn the most important thing?

“You’re the universe, but you have to break free of the only universe you’ve known in order to see the one that’s real. You’re stumbling around in a pitch black room with a web of fears and misguided hopes pulling at you from every direction and you think that you’re running, but you’re just standing still. And all you really need to do is turn your head a fraction of an inch to see things from a slightly different angle.

“You’re the whole universe, just like I’m the whole universe because there’s no end and no beginning. And it’s not that big a deal because it’s everyone and it’s always, but it’s also the only thing; it’s all that’s important. There’s only now. And right now, there’s you and me and this room and that plastic planter and that pretentious painting on the wall there and your ugly shoes. Who cares? What are you going to do about it, huh? Quit thinking, Hugo.

“Start being alive, start remembering the things that you knew the day you were born, start feeling things, become the language-less infant who looks at the world with inquisitiveness, contentment, and thoughtless understanding.

“You could, you know. But you probably won’t. You can’t make me happy because I know what happiness is and you’re just a lot of firecrackers and perfect teeth. I love you, but you don’t know how to love yourself. It could be so easy.”

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