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What do we talk about when we talk about happiness
Along with life and liberty, the pursuit of happiness is stated as an unalienable right of human being in the United States Declaration of Independence. We all live with the objective of being happy, but what do we talk about when we talk about happiness then?
The Pulitzer Prize-winner, Alice Walker, was shot by her brother in the right eye, which led to her blindness. She couldn’t accept the fact of being blind and that caused even more serious mental harm to her. She was unable to regain happiness until realizing how silly she was to focus on her loss instead of accepting what it is and cherishing what she still has.
I did not really understand Alice Walker’s loss and happiness until my grandmother began to lose her memory. Two years ago, I went to visit my grandparents during the Spring Festival. When I entered that house, I could see how things stayed in the exact position where they used to be two years before. Nothing had changed in the past years, except my grandparents, especially my grandmother. She was losing her memory. As I could see, she started with forgetting my age, then my birthday, my school, and even my name. Out of a naive belief that aging could be overcome by an effort of will, I tried to correct her mistakes, while she would deny that she’s forgetting things. Yes, there are still things that she remembers. She remembers the ice-cream I loved so much when I was a little baby. She wears red clothes all year round because I said this color fit her best when I was a little girl. And she always insists that my high-school alma mater is the best high school because I am a student there.
With her amnesia getting more and more serious, her memory is fading farther and farther away from the present world. And I am getting panicked about it. I’m afraid that she forgets to switch off the gas. I’m afraid she forgets to take medicine, but most sadly, I’m afraid that she forgets about me. The idea that I might be erased from her world hurts so much. I stopped trying to argue her back to the real world by correcting her mistakes during the only short visit in the Spring Festival once a year. Instead, I begin to have video chat with her on the weekends, and I grab every chance to visit her: Summer holiday, winter holiday, May Day holiday, the Spring Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival, the Mid-Autumn Festival. I try to travel along with her into the past. We talk about my middle school life, my favorite ice-cream, her red clothes, and whatever she still remembers. I know I can’t stop her from forgetting things, but at least I can help her keep some sweet memory she once had, though it’s only fragments.
There are always things and people disappearing from our lives, and the summit of happiness is reached only when we stop grieving over what we’ve lost, but accept and cherish what we still have. The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best out of everything they have.
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