Payback

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The title of this post is also the title of a wonderful collection of essays by Margaret Atwood, which a woman named Jennifer Baichwal made into a film. The theme is about what we pay and what we owe, in a large sense.

The book contains one of my favorite ideas; many of us believe, consciously or unconsciously, that when we are happy, we’ll pay for it later.  This is some vestige of Judaeo-Christian guilt, probably.  We don’t deserve to be happy. We should suffer for our sins, both in this life and the next (because who is really ever good enough to go to their heavens?)

The world happiness index bases its index on the following: income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity.  A good part of the index is subjective, of course.  They mentioned that if you ask a Swede and a Frenchman the same questions, the answers are almost the same: home life is okay, job’s okay, health is good.  But the Danes will conclude this with, “Wow, does that make me happy!” and the Frenchmen will say the same thing with a whine because it’s only okay.

Okay is just so fantastic though.  I’m healthy.  I have a good job that I like and that pays me enough that I don’t have to worry about the price of eggs, and I can still save money. I’m in love with a lovely man. My living situation is not long-term stable, but I have confidence that things will work out one way or another.  My father is losing his memory and is slowly disappearing, but he’s 90.  It’s sad for me but not a tragedy. My sister finally sold her old house and her financial difficulties are easing up. My ex- and I are getting along great. My roommates for this year are wonderful.

I’m happy now, but I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Of course it will change.  Of course I will be less happy in the future, part of the time at least. I just wish I could bottle this sense of well-being and use it as a pot-potpourri on my death bed, because I really am having a nice life.

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