The Pursuit of Happiness – Mir Yashar Seyedbagheri

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Nick tried to find happiness. Not just some small representation of happiness, but Happiness itself. The fulfillment of joy, peace, tenderness, a respite from his stress. He’d just graduated from a writing program, his father kept trying to lure him home and simultaneously advised him to get pussy. On top of that his father dissected him, called him weak, a bad son, a selfish senseless artist. A dreamer. Job applications demanded that Nick lie, pretend not to be annoyed by the world, and shirk the truth. Opportunities blew Nick by, bookstores and movie theaters, places he’d longed to work. He just needed some small sign that the world loved him.

He looked hard, trying to pinpoint true Happiness. He went to beer nights with friends from the program. He felt lost in the crowd, a recent graduate some nights. On others, even the joy of being among people ebbed all too fast, once people dispersed, leaving him alone. The philosophical discussions about the world, about cruelty that had seemed so illuminating over beers seemed to take on a sort of ludicrousness.

He sought beauty in his Episcopal faith. Nick absorbed the glory of the Sunday morning Eucharist with the organ swelling, the rich liturgies hypnotizing him, the Nicene Creed, the neat lines of reverent people assembling to take communion. He took long walks at dusk, absorbing the evening skies, a symphony of lavender and pink bursting forth. He marveled at streetlamps and their golden glows upon lawns and pavements. These too were temporary things, so beautiful, yet so short.

Nick felt a certain despair. He wondered if he was missing something, wondered why he couldn’t simply find absolute Happiness in all these moments. He tried harder to figure things out. To figure out what happiness looked like, what it truly was, what he wanted. Was it geography? Was it environment? Was Happiness something impossible?

He kept going for walks, to church, to beer nights, the cycle repeating. With each cycle, he felt those small, fleeting moments of joy. There seemed to be no change, just a kind of constancy. Then, one morning, after some months of searching, he thought of the way he assessed the joy. He dissected the joys of those moments, those moments of euphoria. It seemed that perhaps this was some dimension of Happiness, these small moments. Moments that seemed inconsequential, trivial.

Nick vowed to hold onto those moments, to try to reprise them tenfold, and above all to continue searching. He pledged to seek new experiences, friends, worldviews. Perhaps Happiness was perhaps not some vast entity, but a mosaic of experiences, which he could only assemble bit by bit, day by day. And with each morning, Nick awoke with a kind of hope, an eagerness, to find those pieces, feeling a kind of productivity as he searched, even on the days he found nothing at all.

About the contributor: Mir-Yashar is a graduate of Colorado State’s MFA program in fiction. His work has been published or is forthcoming in journals such as AMW Magazine, Terror House Magazine, Unstamatic, Scarlet Leaf Review, and Ariel Chart. He lives in Garden Valley, Idaho.

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