I used to think I'd forgotten what it felt like to be happy. Or I wondered if maybe I just never knew. It was a complete mystery to me why this thing we call 'happiness' was so elusive for me, while other people seemed to have it in spades. Even though, if I had opened my eyes a little wider, I probably would have realised that every single person in this great wide world was wondering the same thing.
I believe we, as a race, expect too much. Today, people think 'happiness' means having all your dreams come true and never having anything bad happen. They believe they if they achieve this ideal of 'happiness', everything will be wonderful all the time. But life isn't like that. Even if your 'dreams come true' as mine have, life still throws the occasional nightmare your way. The idea that a perfect life is attainable is not only fallacious but cruel. People work so hard to try to capture something that just doesn't exist. And while they do that, they miss the true happiness that is right in front of them. The smiles of their children, or the feeling you get knowing you helped a stranger for no other reason than just to help. Satisfying a craving for the world's most perfect apple pie. Made by Deirdre, of course.
Knowing I made a difference in Deirdre's life makes me happy. Watching her just be Deirdre. It's the most amazing thing in the world because I had a hand in it. So many things make me happy. Every time my children say they love me, or hold my hand or call me Daddy. Being Tasha's dad. Anytime Aly does...absolutely anything if I'm being honest. When Thomas shakes his arse. And other things to do with Thomas's arse... When Adrian gets that dreamy look in his eyes while talking about his music. When Kat is vulgar because she's just so wonderfully adorable and crass at the same time. When Kait ducks her darling little head as she smiles shyly. Hearing Stephie talk about Ry and seeing how much she and Ry love each other. Watching Ethan, David and Pierre talk about their children, born and unborn. Hearing Hope squee about...everything. Seeing Zoe getting settled in our family. Liz and Emma. Basically...anything about them. Having intellectual discussions with Renee. Hearing that Jude is opening up to Alexei. Knowing wonderful and loving people like Scarlett and Nancy exist. Seeing Tamm become such an incredible young man and knowing that part of it is because of that incredible young woman he loves, Kay. Hearing Lavannah speak her riddles. Every time Josie smiles at me. Which I still maintain happened more than once! And even when she looks at me like I'm crazed, because let's face it, sometimes I am. When Rosa hugs me and doesn't let go for ten full minutes, because she's Rosa. Lee and Evey. Listening to Svetlana talk about...whatever the hell it is Svetlana talks about. Sometimes it's hard to tell, but it always makes me happy. They all make me so happy. They are my happiness.
With them, I feel like I finally understand. Happiness isn't something we should spend our lives trying to search for, because most likely we already have it. We're just too busy looking for some sort of advertised, marketed, consumer-driven happiness that we overlook it. I suppose sometimes life makes those things easy to overlook. It's not like my life has always been simple or even enjoyable. I was orphaned at 14, I lost my best friend and my faith at 24. I had a string of...less than pleasant lovers before finally finding my soul mate in Aly. And it's not many who have had demons stalk them relentlessly, or can claim they have had a red hot poker as a lover, but I have. Still, to focus on that and ignore my loved ones would be the worst disrespect I could show them. I won't strive for the unattainable, and look past them, because I wouldn't want any other life anyway. I want this one. For the first time in my life, I want it.
So here is to the world's most perfect apple pie, and the world's most wonderful people. I have them both.
Peter Kemp, June 2007