Years ago in a cafe in Sydney named Noisette, a woman sat with a man, older, possibly her solicitor or barrister, an authority figure at any rate. With them was a beautiful, exotic-looking child. She was discussing a divorce and a wedding, and she said to the man, “All I want is to be happy again.”
To which the older man said a few things, one I heard being this, “Oh, of course, most people are very discontented with their lives.” He was philosophical, bemused at the idea it was anything other than commonplace. He continued, “Of course, some people hide it …”
I laugh at this now, not the hiding, which is as commonplace as the unhappiness. I laugh at the idea unhappiness is inevitable or natural, if that’s what he was saying. But what was he saying? Was it, “Buck up, it’s just the way the world is”? Or, did he go on, after I left, to tell her unhappiness was not necessary, that happiness was not a fleeing unicorn in a dream nor a dead dodo on a branch. Thirteen years on, so there was no question, I would lean over and tell them both that happiness is real and the most reliable thing in the world.
Image: Dagblad/Newspaper, by the scrumptiously talented Russell, artist and cafe denizen, at Samferðafólk