June 13, 2020

happiness is a climax of the ordinary

Right after I completed my morning runs, I felt the joy. Maybe, I do not need to be suffered anymore, and then a rush of adrenaline in the blood making a combo push. Boom!

Right after graduating from the undergrad, I were searching for writings by experts on many issues. I were jump-starting learning English again. Around 2007, I couldn't read an article in English without frequent stops for a dictionary look up. Among a few topics, I were reading about happy or happiness. In my mind, happiness was hard to define. Was happy as one result of a successful process such as fulfillment? After such a long difficult journey, one should be finally happy forever after. If so, I should be happy (forever) when receiving my diploma after a long 5-year studying. Judging from who I am now, holding a degree in America, some would thought that I would be finally a successful learner and so **I am happy now**. I am not, not all the times to be exact.

I were glad, and delightful, and proud that I were able to graduate from one of toughest technical schools in Vietnam. I got a few merit-based (or honorary) scholarship during 9-term studying. If my memory serves me right, I got three terms for top 10% of the class. Well, I were lucky that my class was not the most competitive in my university. And to cap off a streak run, I successfully defended my thesis and received a 28 or 29 points out of 30, did I find my forever happiness? I were electrifying, I were tipsy, and I think I were drunk after the lunch with lot of drinks in a restaurant nearby.

But that feeling came and went quickly. I moved on with excitement to learn about job ads, and to scroll through the ads and to decide should I submit an application. Then I got eager to get interview and then wait for a response from recruiters. I got my first job right away from a campus visit by a company. I were excited to learn about industry-graded equipment, how people really do their jobs and what differences between in school and the real life. Then the excitement was replaced by tasks and responsibility to get something done. And the stress added up by internal rules shared by seniors that the boss hated some particular behaviors. And by 7:30 sharp Monday, the boss would called via Skype to check up on each person. His office was in Ho Chi Minh city, and I worked in a representative office in Hanoi, near Bach Mai hospital. If someone was late for the Skype call, he would remember and noted it down, well, that was what a senior told me.

Then I felt glad to leave that job though I enjoyed to watch a batch of suspended sludge grows. And the first time I need to work alone with 380-V motor. That is three-phase motor with fearsome circuit breakers, vibration, high-frequency noise from transformers. I got excited many times. It came and vanished. It was the feeling of a blissful moment. The happiness was something else that I chased, and well, I have not really know what if one day I found one, I would know and call out, aha this is the "happiness" I have been looking for.

Then I was excited to find a job, a better job given the experiences I have learned so afar. And somehow I decided to spend that next three months doing nothing but to study English, TOEFL, and evaluating if I can get to degree that I can go abroad to study.

Happy ending?

Not yet.

It would be rare if you have never heard of a ‘happy ending’ movie. What if you keep the ending part, and make rest of the movie upheaval, comedy or even a sit-come style? Could you still call that new version is a ‘happy ending’ movie. I hope to make to point there. It is the climax that count, and gives the impression of a whole process. What if a funny movie almost to the end, and electricity that went out, the ending was not clear. Would you call it a fun movie or a funny thing just happened?

Happy endings in movies seems to be just as simple that a two partners finally meet each other, a kid go to a school, a employee finally succeeded and promoted. If that alone, there is no special there. To get the those ends, two people probably missed each others in the way to work, or even married to a wrong person, then feel sad. One day, they met at a grocery store, and conversation started, and suddenly they recognized that they grew up in the same neighborhood. They even rode the same bus to work. Those ordinary now becomes like something has been there so that they will meet eventually.

A poor kid, or even a disability kid, despite of his or her own difficulty overcome those challenges. She earned the points to get to a good school, but she missed it because the school is just full, and her application somehow misplaced. But then her story broke, the principal heard about her story over the Internet, and he decided to make exceptional request to admit her application.

So the ending is not something exceptional here, but rather the process of getting to the end, the roller-coaster motion make us feel much better by the ending. We felt happy for the cast, and we called a happy ending, a happy moment.

Fast forward, Hanoi was one in 10 happiest city to live. At least, that was how the story was written. Now, the question if the collective happiness of the whole city is one metrics, or a simpler version with the old French quarter, dynamic street foods, cheap living costs and a more opportunity for the foreigners played in, I am not really sure. But naming such a big city to be happy, it is not easy to justify or even get a sense of what is the happiness the article was about. Adding an abstract concept to a larger population did not make it easier to understand, but the make a hot topic at that time to talk about.

If you feel good about yourself, noted the moment down, with as much detailed as possible. Save the note. Skip 5 years, then read it again. You will be feel glad, and happy. Good memory never fails.

Well, I smiled when I look at old photos. I took photos when I were having a good time. I felt a bliss.

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