How to be happy (without Cocaine, Nutella, Instagram and copious amounts of 4K porn):

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For a lot of my life, happiness has felt like the lure the Greyhounds chase around the racetrack: visible but just out of reach.

While I’m skeptical that humans can ever reach a state of pure unadulterated bliss, I do believe our noses can brush the tail of this elusive white rabbit if we’re intentional.

I’ve been closer, as of late; a closeness I can attribute to three shifts in thinking and behavior:

Kicking Instagram to the curb, sort of.

The first shift has been me working out a healthier relationship with social media (and Instagram in particular). I took a couple months off the platform and now I’m just on there once a week.

(Please feel free to wave hello, but know I won’t wave back until Saturday or Sunday.)

Finding happiness in the dailyness.

Next, I’ve since recognized that humans have this propensity to believe that heaven is wherever they are not.

And, so I’ve made a tremendous effort in finding heaven (or something close to heaven) in the daily moments I’ve taken for granted: the morning’s first cup of coffee, a good run, a hot shower after a good run, a trip to the grocer to pick up fresh ingredients for dinner, dinner, red wine with dinner, chamomile tea after dinner, the book one might read while drinking the chamomile tea after dinner, the cold chill of the pillow and the sheets that stood idle while you were away, discovering a stranger’s clothes can fit you like your own clothes upon frequenting vintage clothing shops, sushi, sake, friends.

By creating some distance between myself and Instagram, I’ve become less stimulated, which has in turn allowed me to go a great deal deeper into my daily life and the small and ordinary (but wildly beautiful) moments that make up my daily life.

Social media is like Nutella. In small doses it is sweet and it is good and it can make one smile. However, you eat Nutella every fucking day of your life and you find yourself feeling unimpacted by the simple beauty and flavor of an apple. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

I’m not entirely sure what God was looking to accomplish in the garden of Eden but I’ve always found the trouble not in being that Eve ate the apple but in Eve finding that after eating the apple, it no longer being sweet enough.

And, in turn, finding herself looking for life’s next apple: the fat line of cocaine, 4K porn or some ridiculous Instagram account that takes 150 photographs of an apple, photoshops the shit out of the apple, gives the apple incredibly unnatural curves and causes Eve to feel dissatisfied with the perfectly satisfactory apple she has in her hands.

But, hey, sex sells.

Doubling down on my craft.

And, lastly, for my third and final shift, I’ve made an effort on taking my work more seriously and myself less so. This is where I introduce a clerk named Sydney.

Sydney is a clerk at a splendid grocery store here in Nashville, Tennessee called The Turnip Truck. He’s a man in his late fifties. He’s slightly grumpy. He’s extremely particular. And, with this particularness, he is mildly slow-moving in his responsibilities as a clerk.

Anytime, I’m grabbing some groceries and I see Sydney is working, I will go out of my way to find myself in his line.

Sydney is a strange man in that he takes his work very seriously but himself less so. He’s festooned in a montage of buttons, one of which sports the copy, “I’m smiling because I don’t know what’s going on”.

But, when you step up to his register, it’s like being a fly on the wall during an open heart surgery

Just the other day, I was checking out with about 36 eggs (I eat a lot of eggs) and he looked at me and he said…

“Did you roll them?”

slightly confused I just replied…

“Yeah, they’re not cracked.”

He stuck his hand up, motioning me to be silent…

“No. Did you roll them?”

I said…

“Okay, what?”

He gave a come hither motion, asking me to lean in as he opened up the cartons of eggs. He then proceeded to place his fingers on every single one of the 36 eggs and gave each a gentle wiggle…

“You do this because you never know if they’re cracked at the bottom. If they don’t budge when you wiggle them, then there is a good chance one of them is cracked.”

On this particular day, when Sydney and I had gotten to the egg rolling, I had already clocked $300 worth of groceries (much of which went to several months of dog food for June).

It very much went without saying that if, for whatever reason, one or two of the eggs was cracked I could pick up another dozen somewhere else.

But, to Sydney, it was important that nobody left his store with cracked eggs.

Sydney then proceeded to place my groceries in three massive paper bags, which he of course double bagged. And then, once the bagging was done, he explained to me what foods were in what bag and why and, with this, which bags housed the “delicates” like basil and eggs and various ripe vegetables.

As I left, he pulled out a wet rag and some scented eucalyptus spray and spritzed down his little conveyor belt. The next person in line began to inch his way up to the register and I heard Sydney say…

“Don’t crowd my lane. I’ll let you know when I’m ready for you.”

This is Sydney.

And, the reason the world is a halfway decent place to live in, some of the time, is because there are people like Sydney that approach their jobs and careers and their crafts with an extreme level of seriousness.

I’m of the belief that when the world is burning to the ground, we still should make our beds in the mornings and we still should strive to be world-renowned in whatever it is we do.

This doubling down on my craft, along with distancing myself from Instagram and treasuring life’s tiny (often overlooked) moments has allowed me to nudge closer to the white rabbit.

I can see it on the horizon.

I might catch it before I die.

I might not.

But, I’m not sure the catching matters, you know?

I think what matters is that I am chasing it.

Do good work, today.

By Cole Schafer.

P.S. I write more creative narrative-style pieces like this one in my books One Minute, Please? and Quarantine Dreams. Give them a read. Or, don’t. I can’t say I give a damn.

Originally published at https://www.honeycopy.com on October 5, 2020.

Written by

I write pretty words and sometimes sell things. https://coleschafer.com/subscribe

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