Is Happiness Possible in Cuba?

Photo: Juan Suárez

By Pedro Pablo Morejon

HAVANA TIMES – You can live in Cuba and want to be happy.  It’s of course difficult when essentials which are needed to live a relatively comfortable life are hard to find. It’s also hard when I’m forced to live with the stress of thinking what I’m going to eat, how I’m going to get a pair of shoes for my little girl or how I’m going to repair my roof which might collapse on top of me at any moment now, as well as so many other worries.

Yep, it’s indeed difficult, but it’s not impossible. At the end of the day, happiness is just a journey, we never really reach it. It’s all in our heads. That’s where we can build a world, with a lot of effort or not, that allows us to live with a basic minimum of peace of mind and freedom.

Everything would be a lot easier if I had had the chance to leave this country I love and hate at the same time. But as I don’t have any relatives abroad supporting me, or have it in me to be a jinetero (prostitute), or have enough saved up to embark on an adventure through Central and North America and risk losing my life or my little belongings… in short, as I see no way of this happening in the short or mid-term, I have no other choice but to create my own reality to ease the situation.

Nor is it a matter of thinking happiness can be found elsewhere. You need to build up this asset on your own, with a lot of struggle, pain and blood, just like you do for freedom. Nobody gives you happiness, just like nobody makes you free.

But the reality is that things would be a lot easier somewhere where you don’t have to suffer so much to live a dignified life, where you only have to deal with existential problems.

That’s why I have no empathy for certain people living in normal countries, even though I admit it can be a painful experience, because they have almost everything yet still surrender themselves to alcohol or other vices to avoid emotional adversity.

Right now, I have to live in Cuba, this prehistoric country, where you have to go out and hunt every morning to get your food like a wild animal, which is just our everyday routine nowadays. A country where it’s just normal to be punished for something as simple and basic as speaking your mind.

But because I have to be here, I’m building up my happiness by writing. Writing allows me to feel like I’m worth a lot as a human being, that I’m not squandering my life away amidst this disaster that they’ve turned this small island in the middle of the sea into, which used to be called the “Pearl of the Caribbean” a long time ago.

Writing is where I seek the universe, and I also do this by taking care of my body. I take care of it, train it, pamper it, everything I can to resist what lies on the horizon, so I can enjoy the consolation of a still distant future, that will become the present soon enough because Time is merciless.

Wherever I am, a future where despite being an elderly man, I can take care of myself and don’t have to show a sickly and abused body and can continue to shout my motto out loud: “I’m a bag of balls.”

Right now, my happiness can be summarized in a few small things, the kind that are really worth the same here or there. Being healthy, having a roof over my head and food in my stomach and somebody who loves me.

And life in my body. At least this is possible.

Read more from Pedro Pablo Morejon here on Havana Times



Pedro Morejón

I am a man who fights for his goals, who assumes the consequences of his actions, who does not stop at obstacles. I could say that adversity has always been an inseparable companion, I have never had anything easy, but in some sense, it has benefited my character. I value what is in disuse, such as honesty, justice, honor. For a long time, I was tied to ideas and false paradigms that suffocated me, but little by little I managed to free myself and grow by myself. Today I am the one who dictates my morale, and I defend my freedom against wind and tide. I also build that freedom by writing, because being a writer defines me.

Pedro Morejón has 155 posts and counting. See all posts by Pedro Morejón

5 thoughts on “Is Happiness Possible in Cuba?

  • I agree with most all the well written comments as well as the writer obviously being torn between being Cuban and being happy, and hopeful for the future. I feel your pain even though I am miles away in a free nation where I have a say in most everything that effects my life. I can choose to make it, or wait for the government to send me a stipend. Therein lies the root of the problem with and in Cuba.

    Once labeled the “Pearl of the Caribbean” Cuba produced much of the world’s sugar, had adequate crops of root vegetables and other crops, pork, beef and fowl to sustain it’s population at the time. Now it doesn’t feed one third the 11-million inhabitants. What
    happened? We all Know the answer, it’s just too painful to admit that Cuba’s savior got in bed with the wrong side of world politics hoping to make a point.

    The unfortunate result is that most of you who care enough to write and express the dire situation of worrying about food for your kids, the deterroration of Cuba’s historic cities institutions etc. have grown up under six decades of Communist rule that promises the
    “government will take care of everything” supply what the party says you need and you just
    be a supportive citizen. It’ll all be alright. Abandoning all those years of promise comes hard when it is all you were allowed read, say or think all of your life. Socialism is, by it’s very nature, a petri dish for full blown communism a form of oppressive rule, not governance. It that slowly squeezes the very pride and energy out of those that strive and desire to make their on life better simply by dictating that everyone is paid based on the party picking order. Often, you do nothing and get paid and some toil and get paid less.

    I’m sorry if my words hurt. It is not my intention. I have traveled the world, lived under monarchies, and dictatorships but democracy is what gives people purpose. It may be a rowdy form of government but to quote Winston Churchill, “everything else is so much worse.”

    Bless you my island friends. Don’t give up on your country, save it. Change it and be proud again.

    Dennis

  • What is happiness? According to my Random House dictionary the adjective “happy” is defined as “1. feeling or providing contented pleasure or joy. 2. fortunate or lucky . . .” Like any other human feeling witch the body experiences, the state of being happy is not long lasting but fleeting. One does not and cannot live by happiness alone.

    Happiness can be found in the unlikeliest places and conversely is wanting in places one would expect it to thrive. I would agree with Pedro that one can find a degree of happiness, or as the definition states pleasure or joy, in Cuba. As Pedro writes: “Yep, it’s indeed difficult, but it’s not impossible.”

    Suppose a family in Cuba is about to celebrate the 15th birthday (El Quince) of their daughter. Preparations for this celebration takes place over many months, perhaps even years. Any money that has been earned and saved, definitely with much sweat and perhaps tears, for this momentous occasion has been stashed away to help purchase the necessities for an elaborate family meal. The day arrives. It is a joyous occasion. The immediate family, relatives, friends sit down for the pleasurable meal. The immediate happiness can be attested around the neighborhood. For a fleeting moment in time in this Cuban family and countless other Cuban families like it, under similar circumstances, happiness can prevail.

    Similarly, the occasion of a Cuban student’s school graduation will unleash the feeling of happiness. Graduation day is a celebration. The graduating student, family, and friends have achieved a milestone in his/her life and immediate family, relatives, and friends celebrate the momentous happiness of the occasion.

    But, for the two examples stated, the next day arrives. The Cuban family in either case must face reality again. There is a shortage of everything. Money is very tight; daily misery sets in again. The graduating student needs to now assess his/her future in a country that has very few viable economic possibilities. The 15 year old girl and her family must face the stark reality of what the future will hold as they hear and see around their neighborhood young people fleeing the country. This certainly is not a happy situation; this is stark reality in Cuba today.

    When it comes to happiness whether one lives in Cuba or elsewhere, Pedro is absolutely correct when he postulates: “You need to build up this asset on your own, with a lot of struggle, pain and blood, just like you do for freedom. Nobody gives you happiness, just like nobody makes you free.”

    Pedro is in tune with Dr. Jordon Peterson. Dr. Peterson has written in his book “Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life” that no person can experience happiness without responsibility. That is, one does not get happiness from thin air. Dr. Peterson writes: “This implies something crucial: no happiness in the absence of responsibility (p. 129). Pedro and Peterson are right on.

    Those Cuban families striving, stressing, struggling, and saving for their daughters’ Quince take full responsibility for their daughters one day in the spotlight and feel proud and happy for their accomplishment. Similarly, the Cuban student graduating from an educational institution isn’t provided an educational diploma instantly via the mail but has had to take responsibility and produce results.

    In the final analysis, it doesn’t matter where one lives in this geographic world whether one is lucky in enough to be born in a very affluent country or born in a very poor country like Cuba a fleeting semblance of happiness can be experienced in both locales provided there is a sense of responsibility that initiates the accomplishment that results in human happiness.

  • What is happiness? According to my Random House dictionary the adjective “happy” is defined as “1. feeling or providing contented pleasure or joy. 2. fortunate or lucky . . .” Like any other human feeling which the body experiences, the state of being happy is not long lasting but fleeting. One does not and cannot live by happiness alone.

    Happiness can be found in the unlikeliest places and conversely is wanting in places one would expect it to thrive. I would agree with Pedro that one can find a degree of happiness, or as the definition states pleasure or joy, in Cuba. As Pedro writes: “Yep, it’s indeed difficult, but it’s not impossible.”

    Suppose a family in Cuba is about to celebrate the 15th birthday (El Quince) of their daughter. Preparations for this celebration takes place over many months, perhaps even years. Any money that has been earned and saved, definitely with much sweat and perhaps tears, for this momentous occasion has been stashed away to help purchase the necessities for an elaborate family meal. The day arrives. It is a joyous occasion. The immediate family, relatives, friends sit down for the pleasurable meal. The immediate happiness can be attested around the neighborhood. For a fleeting moment in time in this Cuban family and countless other Cuban families like it, under similar circumstances, happiness can prevail.

    Similarly, the occasion of a Cuban student’s school graduation will unleash the feeling of happiness. Graduation day is a celebration. The graduating student, family, and friends together have achieved a milestone in his/her life and immediate family, relatives, and friends celebrate the momentous happiness of the occasion.

    But, for the two examples stated, the next day arrives – reality sets in. The Cuban family in either case must face reality again. There is a shortage of everything in Cuba today. Money is very tight; daily misery sets in again. The graduating student needs to now assess his/her future in a country that has very few viable economic opportunities and possibilities. The 15 year old girl and her family must face the stark reality of what the future will hold as they hear and see around their neighborhood young people fleeing the country. This certainly is not a happy or joyous situation; this is stark reality in Cuba today.

    When it comes to happiness whether one lives in Cuba or elsewhere on this planet, Pedro is absolutely correct when he postulates: “You need to build up this asset on your own, with a lot of struggle, pain and blood, just like you do for freedom. Nobody gives you happiness, just like nobody makes you free.”

    Pedro is in tune with Dr. Jordon Peterson. Dr. Peterson has written in his book “Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life” that no person can experience happiness without responsibility. That is, one does not get or expect to receive happiness from thin air. Dr. Peterson writes: “This implies something crucial: no happiness in the absence of responsibility (p. 129). Pedro and Peterson are right on.

    Those Cuban families striving, stressing, struggling, and saving for their daughters’ Quince take full responsibility for their daughters one glorious day in the spotlight and feel proud and happy for their accomplishment. Similarly, the Cuban student graduating from an educational institution isn’t provided an educational diploma instantly via the mail but has had to take responsibility and produce academic results.

    In the final analysis, it doesn’t matter where one lives in this geographic world whether one is lucky enough to be born in a very affluent country or born in a very poor country like Cuba, a fleeting semblance of happiness can be experienced in both locales provided there is a sense of responsibility that initiates the accomplishment that results in the human hunger for happiness.

  • Very eloquent and heart felt words.

  • I don’t see how people living in “Normal” countries who succomb to the disease of alcoholism are deserving of less emphathy

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