Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. – Viktor E. Frankl
They say clinginess is a very unattractive feature… wait, I’ve been over this already. I used to be very clingy, you see. And then I thought I overcame that. But behavioral patterns have a way of resurfacing time and time again. Viktor E. Frankl’s notion of happiness is problematic. Initially, I believed that by simply substituting the word happiness with the word love in that particular quote, I found the solution to clinginess. “You can’t pursue love,” I said to myself. And that seemed to work, if merely as a great censorship tool when talking to potential new love interests. Yet Frankl seems to be saying the complete opposite, that happiness ensues from your pursuit of love. Not only pursuit, but a complete surrender to another person. This is the same man who was in a concentration camp and the meaning of life he came up with amounted to love of another. “I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved,” he wrote. That, if anything, is the definition of idealization. Perhaps that in suffering, at the lowest and weakest point of the human spirit, you shouldn’t be delineating philosophies of life to conduct yourself by later on, or worse, for others to conduct themselves by.
Perhaps I’m scared that he may be right, that I may never find happiness, since in the past two years I couldn’t even hold on to anything long enough to warrant a surrender. I’m scared that I may empathize, given that some of my few moments of bliss occur in contemplation of a beloved person. It’s bullshit, though, because my happiness shouldn’t be directly linked to and engendered by the existence of another person in my life. Yet I wish it was bullshit. Two days ago, I met someone. Handsome, adorable, smart, complex, troubled and with whom I have so much in common. A smile and demeanor that made me joyous. Upon returning home that night, I thought to myself, “I suppose that’s a good reason to stay here now.” I should point out that I have recently moved to a new city and a new country and I had been contemplating leaving. Yet now it’s been made clear to me that he only wants to be friends. Perhaps that was a lot of pressure to put on someone who’s not even interested in kissing me.
But my beloved person… he’s on the other end of the world now. However, even if so far away, the fact that he exists gives me some comfort. He is unlike anyone I have ever met and the time together was simply remarkable, if frustrating. But something truly noteworthy about that period was that it brought to light an even deeper fear of loneliness. I was always aware of that fear, of course, but he managed to produce a desire in me I didn’t think was possible and, instantly, a failing. He wants a family. And I had never thought I could hope for that in my life. There it was, the only person I met in my twenty-two years that I could imagine having a family with telling me this. “But to have a family I need to be someone that can be relied upon,” he then told me. That he needs time for self-development. And to that I replied:
“Don’t wait too long.”
And right as I said it, it broke my heart.