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In Pursuit of Happiness

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I remember speaking to my father regarding his life prior to his now marital existence. Before the days of wife and children he was a man of idealism, of leftist leanings and full of the little tittering presence of rebellion. Leaving rural Ireland for Dublin he embarked on a journey that would take him through dingy flats, post office roofs, treks across Europe and England, meeting Buddhists, communists and Canadian women. I was surprised to find my middle aged father experienced all he did and I wondered why he wasn’t still carrying on in such a way. When I asked him what job he would like me to have he thought for a minute and replied “a job in a bank”, diminishing all my images of his life in 1970’s Dublin. He told me in the same conversation that life was about getting a job and providing for a family if one had one. That’s what people did. That’s life.

 
I think this was my first taste of the cynicism of the world. Now I am in second year in college and apparently on Co-op, work experience to prepare me for the “real” world. I think about this and realise that all my life is preparing me for a career, just as my dear Dad said, a job to support myself, pay the bills and keep whatever dependents I have. Since the day we were born all our life is building up to this great career we will have. You go from Primary School to Secondary School; you get a good leaving certificate to get you into college and then a degree to get you a company car, large mortgage, iron, fridge and Sky TV subscription.

 
“Happiness” seems to have changed to “job satisfaction” and life experience is about filling up your CV. However depressing it is to think, one cannot deny that work is about the only ideal we have in life anymore. I must state that this is not the rant of the lazy and disinterested and it is not a call for anarchy or a dash to the dole queue. Is my mind so childishly naïve that it expects something more to life than this circle of monotony?

 
Contentment and peace of mind should be our main concerns, not being the front runner in a rat race. I agree that a job that one enjoys can be a factor in contentment. If we spend most of our waking hours in it we should choose something that makes us happy. Be therein lies the problem; we often choose paths not because they make us happy but for other less honourable motivations. Money and other people’s expectation are just two to consider. Even if we claim not to be money hungry usually people still place possessions on a pedestal. Brown Thomas bags, Blackberries, saloon cars are part and parcel of a perceived life. Think about it; think long and hard what it is you are working for.

 
Well I want no part in this culture that creates clones of us all. I do not want to stand for a society centred on gain and greed and grovelling. I want life for the very purpose of living it; I want to fill my hours with things that make me glad to be alive. Perhaps some will be familiar with the 1970’s British sitcom, The Good Life. A middle class couple opt out of bourgeois life in favour of self-sufficiency. Perhaps you should take a look at that. As for myself, I am inspired, if it could make me happy then a chicken called Lenin and pair of wellingtons it is.

Aoife Coughlan

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