I began writing and was interrupted by life. This is an expansion of a letter I wrote in the time that came before and the inspiration that followed…
To my friend K____, who lies bored in a hospital bed waiting for things to happen. May the butterflies find you.
I’m sending this card with all the hopes for joy that can be fit between two pages. You may wonder how much hope that is? Endless? Unmeasurable? (Meaningless unless someone reads it.) I guess it depends on which two pieces of paper they are.
Between a birth certificate and death certificate is one measure of a life. At least, in terms of length. Quality is not easily included in a date range. Though, the shorter the measure, the greater the sorrow is for somebody, to be sure. But there is no opposite corollary: a longer life doesn’t automatically mean a happier one. Misery might be much better endured if there were a known end date to look forward to. * And what is happiness to one person might be unendurable misery to another. Ask anyone who grows and lives in the same town their whole life never seeing a life outside a circumscribed boundary. For some that would be heaven, for others, hell depending one whether choice is involved.
Between a wedding license and a divorce decree comes a world of happiness that dissolves with slowly diminishing returns until, one day, the balance is too far in the negative to be recouped. At best, you might achieve a happiness plateau where joy is all but a distant speck in the rear view mirror.**
Does this mean that all happiness inevitably ends? Maybe. Or maybe it’s that happiness is not a butterfly to be preserved forever on a page. Pinning it down kills it. Maybe it flitters on the periphery, just out of permanence. Always sought after in a field of flowers on a hot, sunny day. It is ineffable and elusive. There and then gone again. And perhaps it has a season you must wait for, like spring after a long, long winter. That much more appreciated because it lasts only so long.
I would write you more, but my page has run out. May you spot butterflies somewhere everyday.
Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:
*I feel I should mention at this point that I am actually in a good mood. I am not feeling the need to “end it all.” This is not a cry for help. This is me being lighthearted. It just doesn’t look like everybody else’s lighthearted at all.
**I will be greatly surprised if I am ever asked to make a toast at weddings after writing this. They might be afraid of what I would say to the happy couple.