Discover more from Wysr by Cameron Armstrong
Happiness is a Bubble
ready to burst (and burst forth)
Happiness is a bubble.
a whim on the wind.
Sometimes one bubble combines with another
and the bubble grows
until one day it cannot because there’s no more bubbles to join
and sometimes one brief, bubblemoment is all we get before
Happiness and meaning are intertwined.
The glimmer of one teases the halo of the other.
Yet our glorious fixation is a temporary respite (and perhaps forever shall be - world without end) even as we refuse to see beyond the soft, translucent walls of our cocoons.
I used to think about war a lot.
I don’t really think about war now except in bursts.
But things have been burst-y lately.
And when I do think about war the adrenaline surges back.
The visceral, full-body memory of stakes that are real.
Decisions that change lives.
Things that unequivocally matter (at least to the people crying).
And as I think about the businesses I’ve built and tried to build and am trying to build - all I can feel right now is the heaviest of sighs.
All the imaginary numbers tabulated by the digital beeps and boops representing this metric or that behavior or any other flavorslice of attention pale witheringly in comparison to a few ascendant moments of danger where my life’s lens shifted focus to the question of safety - in the rawest sense - underpinning someone’s life.
And even now it feels indulgent, a survivor’s privilege, to write about, but I’ve got the rest of my life to live and process and thrive and help and work and wonder.
So I sigh.
Life lived, in sharp relief, from then doesn’t mean my life now doesn’t matter, but the calculation of meaning is different.
I have to tease it out.
Build the case for it.
Negotiate with the blunt and finer points.
Explain to myself why I care about the things I care about.
Search for it on the days when it’s not there on the shelf next to my keys.
I have to look around at the mostly nice things and mostly nice people and mostly nice moments juxtaposed jaggedly with all of the not so nice and remind the mirror of something resembling a why.
And the truth I’m confronting with my trudging search is a terrible one.
Observed with banality. Reported plainly. Mostly a dull reminder to my own civility.
I no longer have the twisted luxury of the primal arithmetic of the dead and dying.
Where good and bad is as clear as life or not life.
And my life is better for it.
Yet my life is harder too, as shameful as it sounds, because it comes with the responsibility of confronting the same dawn eternal without the comforting primordial assurance of instinct.
We stare at the sun with only our opinions.
Nothing sacrificed, save for emotional skin in the game.
With empathy surely and perhaps, but only insofar as our loci of control allow.
The limits of our minds and hearts are as staggering to behold as the better angels of our nature.
This essay is spurred by recent events, but the feelings they describe are spurred and re-spurred whenever some sharp reality scrapes against the fragile bubble of my happiness.
For those who don’t know, I served as an Infantry Officer in the U.S. Army and deployed to Afghanistan and Kuwait in 2016-2017.
That chapter came with the weight of responsibility.
It also came with a compass and a scale with which to weigh things.
But as is the fate of all scales, its precision only measures up to a point.
Most who read this will, inshallah, never truly know the awful luxury of certainty.
Still - reflecting on all of this violence, I honestly can’t remember if I’ve ever truly believed that I had no place else to go
and that gives me pause.
The special joy of bubbles is how they form.
Exuberant seafoam bursts forth from the slightest wave tossed upon the shore.
All that’s really needed is some stillness, a substance, and a wisp of breath
a dance of whimsy that something nice might birth once more.