I was listening to N6 on 96.9, Cool FM on a short drive this past Saturday and the topic was something along the lines of whether it was alright for a bride to twerk on her wedding day. Twittersphere was lit (according to N6) and he proceeded to read out some of the comments. I listened to about four of them and the drive terminated when some guy called from the third mainland bridge.
Now all the tweets I heard him read out said she was allowed to so dance as it was HER wedding and the happiest day of her life. While I may not venture any opinion on the particular subject, my interest was piqued at the hidden subtext of those tweets and calls that said she was allowed to do so as it was the happiest day of her life. The happiest day of her life.
I continued to muse over this a bit and discovered that in any clime, it is quite perfunctory to refer to the wedding day as the “happiest day of my life”. It seems no other experience can or should compare; that the day is bestowed with some compulsory magic happy that fails to find expression through any other event. Subconsciously, going by the tweets and calls on N6’s show, we have concluded, (and Walt Disney has emphasized, with the “happily-ever-after” addendum), that a wedding is the highest expression of happiness. Is there the danger of a single story?
I didn’t know when I thought out loud, to no one in particular, “But my wedding day is not the happiest day of my life”. The fact that I am presently not married is a very minor detail. I fully expect to be happy on the day of my wedding. But to begin to think that all the happiness in this grand, vibrant, life is simply to be cashed in on that one event which lasts for about 8/9 hours, is beyond ojoro. Emotions are very fleeting. They have a short life span. I have lived before that day and I still expect to live right after. There are, and still would be, many days to share happiest with. Imagine being born with the knowledge of when the happiest day of your life would be. For me, it removes the adventure and the unpredictability that makes life such an attractive risk.
In Beyoncé’s song “Pretty Hurts” the introductory question was asked, “What is your aspiration in life?” to which she replied, “My aspiration in life would be… to be happy”. It’s clear from the lyrics of the song that she definitely was not aspiring to a wedding as a mean of happiness. The song speaks of a fear of failure, the fatalistic sense of not being able to please everyone, and the nakedness of thought.
Some people believe that if they are not married they would never know true happiness. It is a genuine, legitimate fear and maybe we can now see where this comes from. No one should fault anyone for this. But if you can undress the wedding attire worn by this fear, beneath it, is a desire for companionship, for friendship, for loyalty, for love. These needs are far deeper than the desire for or a wedding or a marriage and are not necessarily cured through either of them. They can therefore be fulfilled over and over again with different people at different times and through different experiences.
Some of us are of the school that we are the only ones who can make ourselves happiest. This is usually interpreted in terms of what we can do (buy, achieve) to bring ourselves satisfaction. The phrase “just do you” is usually bandied about to emphasize the miolewaku (I cannot kill myself) tendencies that our generation has become known for. But nothing rewards like the gummy smile of a baby, the warmth of a hug or the kindness of a stranger.
There are also stronger emotions than happiness. It’s what you feel when you turn on the radio just as they play the last line of your favorite jamz. It’s that moment when you ask a mannequin for directions at the bus stop because you thought it was human. It’s while giving your four year old niece a bath, you ask her to hold her breathe but she clutches her breasts instead. It’s that moment when you sing out loud in church ‘cos you are trying to show off your voice only you are singing the wrong hymn – loudly. It’s queuing at the filling station for hours on end only for fuel to finish when it gets to your turn. It’s when your brother who has been dozing beside you in church suddenly jumps up and shouts Hallelujah! for no just cause. It’s that moment when Phyno’s “Connect” comes on. It’s sleeping past your alarm and dashing to the bathroom only to remember it’s Saturday with soap in your eyes and tooth paste in your mouth. It’s that moment when your phone beeps after being silent for sooooooo long, you click savagely, expectantly on the envelop icon.
It’s not a message from her/him, or the alert you have been expecting, but from “3520” which reads “text “Love” to “1320” to get the latest music downloads to thrill your callers”.
It’s when you drive through third mainland bridge at 8:00pm on a Monday evening, in a dazed fashion because there is no traffic. It’s walking out the door, just as you hear your zip, without any prior notice of malfunction, rip. It’s when you press send to an unintended recipient. It’s that moment when you floor the accelerator and you beat the traffic light just as it turns red. It’s when you buttoned your shirt unevenly and your crush points it out.
Sometimes, sometimes we live more in these moments than in our happiest.
Death is very final. But it’s the small deaths we die, while we yet live, that truly kill. We think that the fulfillment of the Great Expectation (whatever that means to you) will bring us the happiness we desire and we hinge everything on it; by-passing or failing to appreciate other experiences because we seek something else. It may, or may not.
A confident person enjoys the journey, the people they meet along the way. They reach the summit last because they know it isn’t at the top of the mountain waiting for them, but it’s down below teaching others that the view is glorious wherever you stand. It’s the happiness we can give each other, irrespective of who they are, that is the greatest of all.
That kind of happiness that genuinely gives without seeking anything in return. It is governed by the fundamental spirit of economy which means that to be blessed, is to be a blessing to others.
Maybe then, maybe we may not have to consider if we can twerk all our happiness in just one day.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime