Today I wanted to share a favorite piece of prose from a french author. English translations vary, and this one is from,Words I Wish I Wrote, by Robert Fulghum. I’ve seen many other translations and mostly they all come to the same conclusion, enjoy yourself, because time is short. I wish for you the same, enjoy your holidays everyone. Time is short. Eat, drink, and be merry. I truly think the French are wiser than we give them credit.
You must always be intoxicated.
That sums it all up: it’s the only question.
In order not to feel the horrible burden of Time
which breaks your back and bends you down to earth,
you must be unremittingly intoxicated.
But on what? Wine, poetry, virtue, as you please.
But never be sober.
And if it should chance that sometimes, on the steps of
a palace, on the green grass of a ditch, in the bleak
solitude of your room, you wake up and your intoxication
has already diminished or disappeared, ask the wind,
the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, ask everything
that sings, everything that speaks, ask them what time
it is and the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock
will reply: It’s time to be intoxicated!
If you do not wish to be one of the tortured slaves of
Time, never be sober; never ever be sober! Use wine, poetry
or virtue, as you please.
Charles-Pierre Baudelaire The Prose Poems and La Fanfarlo
Here is another version, if you are interested: Intoxication
Happiness, to me, is a natural result of health and love. It’s thriving. It’s like the moment my car is tuned just right. Or maybe when my cat is purring on my lap. What would it take to fill up my happiness container? And why did it get low in the first place?
How do you equate happiness? Is it a switch you turn on or off? Or a bucket you fill? This is a lot like the glass half empty or glass half full question. It’s funny since most people think of this as a right or wrong, optimist or pessimist problem, but I don’t see it like that. It could be both.
If happiness is a bucket we fill, then load it up with lots of big stuff first. Vacations, toys, experiences. And don’t forget the ice cream. No one is happy without ice cream. It’s a proven fact. Somewhere there is scientific evidence for that, I’m sure. My friends and I have determined that anything can be cured by ice cream. Breaking a nail? Wreck the car? Lost your job? I guess the only exception would be death. That’s the one thing ice cream isn’t helpful with. Unless you serve it at the funeral.
If you see happiness as a switch or a button, what will it take to turn it on? Medicine? A brisk walk? Sleep? Talking with a friend? Maybe some more ice cream will do it. Maybe happiness isn’t the perfection I’m striving for. Maybe it’s just being in the moment that is. Not with everything perfect and in order. Control freak here. I have to remind myself that happiness can be just having the ice cream even if the rest of my life is in chaos. That’s my on switch.
Here is one of my favorite quotes that reminds me of that moment. I had it on my refrigerator for a long time to remind me of this truth.
“Caretake this moment. Immerse yourself in its particulars. Respond to this person, this challenge, this deed. Quit evasions. Stop giving yourself needless trouble. It is time to really live; to fully inhabit the situation you happen to be in now.”― Epictetus
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