I’ve been called a “little self conscious bastard” by someone. It’s not entirely false, either. I’m self conscious, a lot of the time. Other times I don’t care. People can hate me if they want, once they understand that whatever they hate me for is in their own head. I don’t do things to intentionally get on people’s nerves to that extend. I intentionally aim not to offend people.
So I thought – happiness. I can write about that. This is it, I suppose. This is me writing about happiness. I lack it. It’s not in enough quantity. My insecurities get in the way of that. They drive me absolutely mad. Can’t be happy like that. I know that, you know that, and one of my very best friends knows that. He’s the “someone” from before.
I deserved what he said, of course. I was being a strange little cretin, and I deserved it. And once everything had been sorted out, for the umpteenth time, musical education. “Seriously? Just like that? Musical education?” Yes. Music has a profound effect on me, and this friend, he has a wonderful way of knowing exactly what song to have me listen to. It started with Bob Marley, Don’t Worry Be Happy. He was taking the piss, a bit. But he knew what he was doing.
It moved on from there. He showed me music I’d never heard before, or showed me songs I’d heard before but never knew who performed it. Donovan, Sunshine Superman. Ben Folds, There’s Always Someone Cooler Than You. Ennio Morricone, The Mission Main Theme. Those are just a selection of the songs. Admittedly, there weren’t very many songs during this time, but there will likely be more in the future.
So why did I just tell you the songs I was told to listen to? Music, I’ve told you, has a profound effect on me. It lifts me up inside. I get lost in songs. The lyrics, the story of the song, the beat, the rhythm, the sounds of the instruments. Each and every one of these songs pulls me into them, into the happiness they’re capable of creating.
And in all this? Discovery. I hadn’t heard of a few of the people I was asked to listen to, and most of the songs. Music, I’ve decided, is happiness and discovery. And freedom? I suppose. I mean, I never feel more free than when the world slips away around me. Only darkness. Not the bad, soul eating type of darkness, but the type that’s there because nothing else needs to be. The world just leaves, goes away. The traffic and the mayhem around me as I walk down the road? Gone. Not important. If I was brave enough, I’d completely forget about them and just spin around in circles as I listen to The Doors. They make me want to do it, as my head gets filled with a strange euphoria, as I feel let loose, allowed to wander about inside my own head.
Musical education: my path towards freedom, towards happiness. I know it sounds absolutely bonkers, unless you really, really understand music, but that’s how it’s happened for me. Just last night, literally. And, I suppose, into the early hours of the morning. Earphones in, volume on just loud enough to hear, or I’d be deafened, Facebook chat open.
So I still ask myself, Can I be happy? I mean, all the time, can I be happy? I don’t know for sure. But I have these songs, now. I have the things that made a difference, and I’m listening to them all again and again in whatever order suits me. I’m letting myself fall back into that same mood as I was in last night, after all the worry that I was making a huge mistake, after all the doubt I placed in my head about whether or not a friendship was what I thought it was. I won’t lie – I do worry. A lot. I try not to, but I can’t help it. I worry, and it kills me on the inside.
And then... then the music plays. All sorts of music does the job, but new songs, new to my ears, at least, they do it better than anything else. While I don’t consider Glee to be an education in good music, the very fact that’s it’s new is all I need. Something new, something fresh, something lively, most of the time. It does the job, just like Ben Folds, just like Donovan, just like James Tiberius Kirk – William Shatner – doing his version of Common People.
Can I be happy? That’s the whole point of this, isn’t it? To see if I can be happy? I write, and I can be happy. I listen to music, and let it take me away on a strange new journey, and I can be happy. I go to a movie, and even when I’m feeling upset, like when I lost my job back in February, whenever I worried whether or not Jonny Havron, rest his soul, was safe or not, and for a while, at least, I can be happy. Senseless violence, I think it was. That was all it took. Feel good movies from explosions and banter. But, that’s different. The writing, that’s in solitude. The music, that’s a shared experience sometimes. Especially when it’s music someone’s shared with me, or something I can share with someone else, like Sorcha and my entire back collection of DFTBA’s finest. The movie, that’s with friends. I never go alone, and I mainly go with the same group of three or four people, and every time it’s over, every single time we get out of the movie, we walk to the end of the road while I wait for my dad or brother to come to pick me up, and we just talk and laugh, and make fun of the movie we just saw.
So can I be happy? I think so. I mean, if the past couple of months are anything to go by, I can be an annoying, self conscious, somewhat depressed little git, but I can be happy, too. I can most definitely be happy, when I have my friends there, the words, the music and the movies, the light-hearted entertainment and the escape from the world. And if I can be happy, with all my worries, and fears and doubts, there’s nothing stopping you from being happy, too
Written as part of Summer of Writing 2010, Challenge 1 - I Can Be Happy. Deadline: June 26th 2010, 18:30 BST.