Friday, 20 July 2012

"Are you happy?" they asked. "Er..." I replied.

I was back in the Square Mile last night at a pub leaving party for a former colleague. Some there hadn't seen me for more than three years since my retirement from newspapers.
In the shifting dynamics of a party where everyone stood - in my book only wimps sit at drinks do's - I found myself in a corner with three women journalists of my acquaintance.
Having quickly established I wasn't in some new gainful employment, one asked the question that wouldn't have occurred to any of the men present.
"Are you happy?"
"Er..." I replied. "Well, no, I wouldn't go that far. Who is?"
"Content. How about content?" asked the second.
"Not really."
"You don't seem unhappy," said the third.
That's because I'm not. I cast around for a word that described my present state of mind.
"Engaged," I said. "Not maritally," I added hastily. "Engaged with life."
Until obliged to I had never thought about my state of mind. Choosing not to accept opiates - neither drugs nor religion - a constant state of happiness has always seemed unachievable to me.
Happiness is a fleeting condition to be enjoyed for the moment and I'm fortunate to say I've had many.
I don't know where the description "engaged" sprung from. But it sums up where I am at the age of 67. Life would be full of disappointments if happiness were the only desired goal.
I much prefer to be "engaged" - getting on with life and every now and again being caught unawares by, yes, happiness.

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