The Happiness We Seek

Veronica Vega

Ahasuerus at the end of the world. By Adolph Hiremy Hirschl

HAVANA TIMES – A few months ago, I watched a documentary about Sergei Polunin, a talented Ukrainian ballet dancer, who, at the peak of his career, felt the pang of boredom and gave up his place as principle at the Royal Ballet in London, which he was given when he was only 19 years old. I wanted to write about the relativity of success, but I put it off.

Days later, I saw “The Escape”, an English movie about a young woman who, suffocating between the pressures of motherhood and the monotony of marriage and comfort, escapes from home and even leaves her children behind. I then thought about writing about the paradoxes of security. But, I also put it off.

Today, I found out that a very dear friend of mine had passed away after fighting a tough battle against breast cancer. I am trying to write about the paradox of our existence, but I know I won’t be able to.

The only things I manage to get a glimpse of in my mind are flashbacks of her dreams: being able to live a dignified life off her wages, working in something she studied for and something that she had loved since she was a young girl: nursing. The pride her degree and diplomas gave her; her efficiency, her patients’ infinite gratitude. Her hectic timetable, her unyielding will when obstacles came in her way. Her ability to foresee, solve things, to transmit faith.

And I find this paradox even more scandalous, because of her adherence to the cliche formula to achieve success, security, happiness.

The destruction a disease like cancer causes doesn’t have a hint of poetry. It devours every inch of you so that you are left with nothing. Even those in mourning or witnesses of this disease are left with the feeling of having been cheated.

Who is responsible for this scam?

Life? Fate which drives us with crazy magnetism? Each and every one of us, because we misuse our free will? Society, because it incites and encourages a hypnosis of spending years and decades going to and fro, ignoring the finiteness of this illusion?

What good is it to have an iron determination if you’re only heading towards annihilation? Where will this strength that pushes us to fight, transform, dominate, even with violence, end up?

Gianlorenzo Bernini – Death of the blessed by Ludovica Albertoni

I remembered that when I watched Dancer, I was expected a boring apology from a virtuoso and celebrity. I was really taken aback by how deep his views were. The very beginning of the documentary, when the dancer takes a drug in front of the camera and confesses that even his performance will go by like vertigo because of its effects, and he won’t remember it. The scenes when you appreciate how much we exploit and torture a body for a flight that only lasts a couple of minutes. His family’s sacrifice for this dream of glory and prosperity where they ignore interior abysses.

The Escape, the English movie, tackles boredom from another perspective: where will passion end up amidst wellbeing, responsibility, habit. Boredom even to satisfy instincts. 

However, we need more movies that show us this constant mockery of events about our fantasies and thoughts, clearly. Our crushing reality vs. the future we’ve built in our minds.

We have this responsibility with our family, society, education. If materialism is our accepted philosophy, then we should deal with the subject of death with more objectivity, without any euphemisms. Admitting the madness we have when traveling inside this material body, in absolute blindness, without being mindful of the fact that this journey can end at any moment.

Education and the media should emphasize the inconsistency of our solid, tangible bodies, which we pompously use as proof of our existence. The incongruency between what we hope for and what we are dealt. The bewilderment when it suddenly disappears, more than just a body, our “presence”. With its memories, feelings, the inheritance of personal objects which no longer bear witness to anything.

Personally-speaking, I know that death is the sunset of a world (or state) and a new dawn for another. However, living in an environment where only scientific evidence is valued, I ask myself why science doesn’t even take responsibility for the many paradoxes we are affected by.

We need to readjust concepts of happiness, security and success. Because even governments and monopolies have to face the great scam of life, which they can’t sue, or seek compensation to swell the illusions of their survivors.