We sat soaking, our backs pressed against chlorinated jet streams that kneaded the emotions we had amassed in our muscles.
I looked at her.
She looked away.
The fissures had already formed.
Her ducts were no match.
Water will always carve its way through even the most unyielding of stones.
"Are you happy?" I asked her.
"I am 57. I have given up so much of who I am that I have become someone I don't even recognize, someone I don't even like, but as it is, I struggle to pay the bills each month. I don't know what to do."
"You didn't answer my question," I pressed. "Are you happy?"
I didn't need to hear the answer.
That woman, she is you.
She is me.
She is every woman or man who has felt, at some point in their life, unworthy of love, and as a result, changed their ways.
Those of you who have given up hobbies or taken up new ones. Who have modified opinions, actions, or lifestyles.
Those of us who began laughing a little quieter.
And in the end, the worth we so boldly sought, disappeared completely.
Because such metamorphosis leaves us blind to our own light and without that illumination, it is hard to find our way out.
For me, the guiding light was one simple question: Does it make you happy?
"Maybe I could become an Uber driver to make some extra cash."
Does driving make you happy?
In my case, I had a partner who continually shushed me. Apparently the boisterousness nature of my contentment embarrassed him.
I couldn't see it at the time, but as I silenced myself, so did my laughter.
And he moved on to something else. I talked too much. I asked too many questions.
It didn't make me happy.
So ask yourself.
Trust me on this one.
"Does it make me happy?"
I know what you are saying right about now.
"It isn't that easy."
"Nothing is that cut and dry."
But here is the thing: It isn't that difficult either.
I dare you.
Make a list right now.
Things you have given up. Tasks you complete daily. Objects of your desire.
Do they make you happy? Will they make you happy?
What would your life look like with or without those things?
In the grand words of Alan Watts, Philosopher extraordinaire,
“It’s better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing, than a long life spent in a miserable way.”
I am telling you this because I have done it.
I continue doing it.
Every. Single. Day.
And to that woman, the one whose tears my pruned fingers wiped away, next time you find yourself making a change, ask yourself, "will it make me happy?"
Because if you aren't happy, no one will be.
And when you do what makes you happy, it seems that all the other stuff just falls into place.