I have a theory that we don’t want to be happy. At every point, we have a choice between what could potentially make us happy and the other. And time and again, we choose the lesser path, and then make excuses for why we couldn’t take the better route.
We are such complex creatures.
The irony is that regret makes life easier to live. Regret kills us, but it also keeps us alive. Regret gives us hope—it is the possibility that if things were different, our lives could have been better, happier. It is the possibility of a happiness that exists safely in the realm of imagination where it can’t be destroyed by reality. In truth, there is no happiness.
In Before Sunset, the unrealized future with Jesse gives Celine hope that in an alternate storyline, she could have found happiness. If they had met six months later at that train station as planned, they would have killed that dream. Because they would have fallen into a relationship, spent a magical few months wrapped up in each other’s world, held together by liminality, and then reach a plateau where he gets tired of the very things he loved about her and she would despise him for god knows what and they will basically spiral into the dumps. At this point, they would have no escape—they would not know a ‘could-have’ to escape to.
True story: there was a documentary where this man paid a prostitute a small fortune to film her life for three days, hoping that at the end of this, she wouldn’t have to prostitute herself anymore. That money could have bought her a farm back home and provide enough for her to live comfortably with her husband and kids. A year later, he found her to be exactly where they parted, the money squandered away. And her answer to that was, “That’s just life.”
If Romeo and Juliet didn’t die, it would not have been a love story. It would have been a true story of life. Tragedy is the reason love even exists.
We are fucked up and we need to believe that that is not the only ending. That there is another way our story could be written.
Ps. Joyce—I love the random things that come out of our conversations.
1984, George Orwell
Hey Whipple, Squeeze This, Luke Sullivan
Till We Have Faces Again, CS Lewis
One Day, David Nicolls (blah)
Getting to Yes, Roger Fisher
God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy (almost!)
Other Colours, Orhan Pamuk
Snoop, Sam Gosling