Monday, March 1, 2021

And So It Goes


Depending upon what study you read, the occupation with the highest suicide rate is either doctors or blue collar workers.  Apparently, you need to pay attention to whether they are comparing professions or jobs.  Either way you look, though, educators seem to have the lowest which I find particularly odd since my first grade teacher, who was both beautiful and young, committed suicide.  

But I wander.  

The method of suicide is what interests me most.  For those who actually are successful, guns are the main tool.  However, for doctors, it is poisoning.  Doctors know.  They use a combination of barbiturates and Tylenol.  Yup.  It is much the same as what "end of life" doctors use in Oregon.  Vets have the best stuff, pentobarbital, but that is difficult to get, even for doctors.  Most vets use two injections, first a tranquilizer and/or pain reliever, then pentobarbital which stops the heart.  

You can no longer get Seconal or Nembutal in the U.S.  Too many complaints about it, I read.  Not even Darvon or Darvocet.  No one says it, but I am relatively certain THIS fact has contributed greatly to the opioid epidemic in the U.S.  They have driven everyone to oxytocin.  

But this is not my point.  Not completely, anyway.  

Happiness.  That is my intended subject.  Obviously, I started with the converse.  I mean, people who commit suicide aren't really very happy I would imagine, and suicides are up 40% in the last ten years in the U.S.  I think we can assume that there is more unhappiness than there used to be.  

So when a former friend of mine messaged me to tell me she had achieved a greater degree of happiness in the past year, I realized that she had beaten the trend.  It was a lot of work, but ending relationships with some people in her life helped.  In that, there was a measure of achievement.  

It made me think about the nature of happiness.  Aristotle said something like happiness is the only thing we seek for its own quality.  Money, property, fame, esteem. . . they are all sought in order to achieve happiness.  

And yet it doesn't seem to work for doctors.  

The idea of happiness has undergone some radical changes throughout the years.  Where Aristotle tied it to the ethical life, religions gird it to the service of God.  The Happy Buddha finds it in the emptying of the soul.  And of course, Americans are always in pursuit of it.  

Happiness as a concept is indefinable, of course.  It can be described to an extent, but like "life," it eludes definition.  

I am, as you know, always suspicious of concepts.  

Which led me thinking about philosophy.  A quick Google search yielded this:

The essence of philosophy is the study and development of fundamental ideas and methods that are not adequately addressed in specialized empirical disciplines, such as physics or history. As such, philosophy provides the foundations upon which all belief structures and fields of knowledge are built.

That is to say, the structure of philosophy is not founded upon facts but ideas, methodologies, forms, etc.  It is based in constructedness.  I wasn't going to find what I needed to know about happiness there.  

Turn to psychology.  Then turn away quickly, for here we find happiness not as a social good but as a personal experience.  

I know I am generalizing, but I don't intend on writing a term paper here.  If you wish to quibble and quarrel, go ahead.  If you are smart enough to do that, your chances of being happy are much diminished anyway.  There are many studies that say so.  

Jesus was a carpenter.  Suicide rates among carpenters are just about the highest of any group of workers.  Was Jesus happy?  

A quick Google search gives a clue. 

God most definitely wants us to be happy. Psalm 37:4 reads, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” And Psalm 126:2 says, “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.” In fact, God tells us to be happy more times in Scripture than any other command.

I'm having a difficult time, however, remembering the gleeful, backslapping Jesus.  We are supposed to take the fall of Adam and Eve as a happy fall, for they are allowed to redeem themselves through their good works.  

Obviously, happiness takes many forms.  

* * * 
I wrote that yesterday.  I haven't a desire to continue or finish it today, so I'll end with a story.  When I was in my Ph.D. program, my dissertation director fell for a beautiful woman who was getting a doctorate in another field.  She was from Spain, a classically trained dancer much younger than he.  One night while we were having drinks, I said to him, "You know how good you feel right now?  That's how bad you will feel when she's gone."  

And that is the way it is with "happy," I think.  Can you remember the happiest time of your life?  It surely won't be the time you went to the fair or the time your daddy bought you a pony.  Or will it?  What do I know.  It is difficult, right?  The word is a mile wide and an inch deep, as the saying goes.  

And the dancer?  Oh, you know. . . eventually she moved on in the eternal quest.  

"And so it goes" (Vonnegut. . . profusely).  

No comments:

Post a Comment