By Muhammad Hasan

Happiness and The Greater Good

"Do what makes you happy.."

That’s something we hear on a regular basis, coming from our parents, friends and professors.

But to only do what makes me happy means that I have to put happiness above all else - happiness as the greatest good. It’s a kind of hedonism; to avoid everything that is painful or makes us unhappy, unaware that sometimes the path to being happy involves pain and suffering.

Take a thief or a murderer for example.
A mentally deranged person could possibly extract joy from the act of murder or stealing, so is his action still right? After all, he is doing what makes him happy?

Happiness is important, I think that’s a point that everyone can agree on. But we can’t put happiness as the greatest and highest good, especially if you’re hurting the ones you love and yourself. For example, loving a person that’s not right for you might make you happy, but if you’re hurting yourself and everyone around you - and you put the blame on others not validating your relationship and therefore happiness, then you really have to start questioning your core values.

In Her Arms

You know what this feels like?
This feels like the last night of camp as a little boy. One part anxiety and two parts anticipation, that’s what it feels like.

Home feels so close that I can almost smell my mother’s favorite perfume and the feeling of resting my head on her lap as we drive back to the house.

Sweet, sweet familiarity.
Comfort in the highest sense.
Tomorrow, I’ll sleep in peace,
Knowing I’m home in her arms.

Take the alpine swifts. 
Notorious for their ability to stay in flight for six months at a time, it soars through the world’s skies as if not one thing one earth - not a need, not a want, weighs it down. But even after a few months of resisting gravity, it still needs to land. 

To land is not to admit defeat for the alpine swifts, it simply means that it needs to rest. Every once in a while, instead of bearing the weight of the sky, it bears it’s own weight onto the earth .

Maybe it’s my lapse in faith, or maybe it’s a fault not my own. Regardless, sometimes I feel as if I’m the sole giver and he’s the sole receiver. I know that I shouldn’t be praised by my actions but by the person I am - and that means not being calculative when it comes to doing good. But I’m not talking about appreciation - in that I am self-sustained.  I am, for once, asking for a place to perch and replenish myself. And it saddens me to say that I can find no such place in the person I hold the closest to me. 

Maybe this is just a lapse in faith I’m experiencing. After all, why else would I depend so much on him when I know that spirit is attainable? Am I just putting too many of my needs on to one person? Or is he just incapable of such a gesture? 

Maybe, but for the moment, I can’t agree with that.

He just recently moved to a new and better paying job. And it’s been changing him for the worse. When asked, “why do you work so hard?” he foolishly answers, “cause we need our daily bread, of course.” Little does he know that man cannot survive on bread and bread alone. Man needs to wonder in awe at the sea of stars above his head and the carpet of flowers beneath his feet. Yes, he needs food, but he also needs to live. That’s the truth that eluded him.

Take the alpine swifts.
Notorious for their ability to stay in flight for six months at a time, it soars through the world’s skies as if not one thing one earth - not a need, not a want, weighs it down. But even after a few months of resisting gravity, it still needs to land.

To land is not to admit defeat for the alpine swifts, it simply means that it needs to rest. Every once in a while, instead of bearing the weight of the sky, it bears it’s own weight onto the earth .

Maybe it’s my lapse in faith, or maybe it’s a fault not my own. Regardless, sometimes I feel as if I’m the sole giver and he’s the sole receiver. I know that I shouldn’t be praised by my actions but by the person I am - and that means not being calculative when it comes to doing good. But I’m not talking about appreciation - in that I am self-sustained. I am, for once, asking for a place to perch and replenish myself. And it saddens me to say that I can find no such place in the person I hold the closest to me.

Maybe this is just a lapse in faith I’m experiencing. After all, why else would I depend so much on him when I know that spirit is attainable? Am I just putting too many of my needs on to one person? Or is he just incapable of such a gesture?

Maybe, but for the moment, I can’t agree with that.

He just recently moved to a new and better paying job. And it’s been changing him for the worse. When asked, “why do you work so hard?” he foolishly answers, “cause we need our daily bread, of course.” Little does he know that man cannot survive on bread and bread alone. Man needs to wonder in awe at the sea of stars above his head and the carpet of flowers beneath his feet. Yes, he needs food, but he also needs to live. That’s the truth that eluded him.

Solitude Shared

When you feel as if love’s tempestuous billows bring nothing but agony, you withdraw to solitude.

In solitude you learn to be emotionally self-sustaining, to be mindful of your thoughts and emotions, and to see through life’s mirages. It doesn’t necessarily mean retracting oneself completely from society, it’s being able to be alone with one’s thoughts.

But those who commit such a crime of the mind have yet to understand that solitude too will hurt you with it’s yearning for another. There is no escape for pain, we can only pick the pains we deem worthy.

Junkies Nonetheless

We are the pioneers of good taste, the epitome of fashion and style, the most successful executives, and the hyper-masculine ideal. Whether it’s in the art gallery, the gym or in the meeting room, we strive to do better than the best.

We are validation-junkies.
We live off praise and admiration - it’s the fuel that rockets us to be the best at whatever we choose to do. You don’t see a lot of us working normal, tedious, average jobs. We fear mediocrity more than anything; we fear failure, resentment and most of all, invalidation.

Why is that?
Why are we so persistent in proving ourselves?

Is it because we are the oppressed?
Being told we are lesser than them, we live to prove that we are are just as worthy. We let hatred and resentment direct our lives, and we wonder why some of us turned to drugs and sex for an escape.

Lies, Promises and Happiness

When agony wells up inside, it swells your knuckles and bends your crooked fingers - commanding them to write. I’m struggling, trying to put my feelings and reflections into words. Painstakingly stitching arguments and counterarguments - one after the other - so that they would, in hope, appeal to reason. This is my novice attempt at putting the abstract working of the agony-ridden mind into words. 

Most, if not every gay man knows what it feels like to live in secrecy; to live a double life, to lie every single day for the sake of their own happiness. Trading your sense for moral value for the pleasure and duty of being true to yourself - placing honesty to self above honesty to others. When I lived that life, I neither felt happy or just. I felt like everyone who were close to me weren’t really close to me since I’m constantly veiling a significant portion of myself from them. I felt alone and unhappy. 

When I decided to come out of the closet, It was ecstasy. To be true to everyone else and yourself, I never felt more loved by Him. Not a friend was lost in the process, my sexuality was accepted if not embraced by the people I surround myself with. I was hooked - addicted to the ecstasy of being wholly connected with the people I love. I promised myself never to go back to the closet again. 

My beau, on the other hand, haven’t had the experience of coming out. He hides his sexuality not out of necessity, but out of fear. Fear of rejection and fear of judgement. I can’t tell you how many times I had to sit silently in the corner and make like a ghost while he answers a call from a close friend or family. How many times I had to endure the self-inflicted pain of having to “act naturally” against my nature. How many times I had to choose anguish over ecstasy. I’m here, I’m a part of his life, and for him to exclude me from this whole other side of his life, it leaves me thinking that I don’t actually know him. 

It seems like I’m now left with a choice. 
Break the promise I made to myself and hold on tight ‘till dawn comes, or honor my own word and continue my pursuit of happiness? 

Lovers and The Unknown

They say that the unknown is the territory of lovers. But I never understood what that statement really meant. Could love really answer questions regarding science and math? When two are intertwined, can they really, then, know everything? Or perhaps do they only feel like they know everything? 

I’m a sophomore. My major requires sixty units and my minor twenty - so I have a long way to go. Longer than my boyfriend at least. He might have a year or so left in school, but most of the time, I can’t help but feel like he has already one foot out the door. I know that tomorrow isn’t promised for anyone, and I know that loss is imminent in life - so when I sometimes think of different scenarios of us separating ways, I can’t help but feel stupid. Stupid for choosing to suffer by worrying before I even suffer. 

I guess we can all agree that the future is unknown territory. Yes, we can say that the future will resemble the past, but that only means that we know the past-future - not our future-future. So can it really be, then, that the future is the territory of lovers? 

Can love shed some light on what is otherwise beyond human perception?
Or does love just numb the pain of stumbling onto something and falling over in the darkness? 

For My Beloved

If on this beautiful day I should feel sad, 
And if crying was an option,
I should cry for you, my beloved, 
And for what’s to come for us.

For that which looks obvious but isn’t,
For that which seemed apparent but isn’t.
Remember, letting go isn’t the same as giving up.

Surrender

The past week have been an emotional roller coaster for me. It’s summer here in San Francisco, and I just can’t seem to see an end to the endless fog that blankets the city.

My love, he went away on a cruise with his family for two weeks. We fight as couples tend to do, but it was never about the small things. It was always about the fundamentals of love; honesty and the feeling of being wanted and loved. I’ve been trying to make him see that what I told him he was lacking can’t be taught or taken away. It is either present or it isn’t, although sometimes clouded by ego, fear and anxiety. His smile, his eyes, the way he’d say my name. All so vivid in my head - asleep or awake. I see him dancing in my dreams to his favorite Youtube video, and I would wake up in tears, murmuring the lyrics to that song ever so softly. I’d remember playing him Elizabeth Mitchell’s “You Are My Sunshine” right before we go to bed on a foggy San Francisco night and I would cry yet again, remembering how softly he’d fall asleep next to me. He looked like an angel to me, an angel that I was lucky enough to call mine.

So in the end, I decided that it’d be best for him to learn by not having contact with me, and by working his way back into my heart. I’ve learned that he finds comfort in statuses, and so I’m going to make him work for it. It hurts indefinitely - being away from him for such a time. But I guess what hurts more is doubting whether he feels the same way or not. Maybe he does, but it never came across that way. And with long-distance fighting comes also a crippling sense of helplessness.

If that wasn’t bad enough, my grandma - the woman who raised me for the first few years of my life, is really ill. Laying in a hospital bed all the way in Southeast Asia. My mother sent me pictures of her and told me stories of how she would always look for me among her many grandchildren. She said it was because I was the most loved by her. By now I feel like I’ve just been defeated by a bitter sense of helplessness.

My heart, my head, my eyes, they are all hurting from everything I’m going through. I am embracing grief and I’m acknowledging it, affirming to myself that this pain I’m feeling will bring me wisdom and knowledge. Through it I’ll walk away with a shred of truth, a shred of which I’ve rightfully earned by then.

Those are all things that I have no control over, and I’ve come to acknowledge that. Space separates us in the empirical sense but never in an emotional sense. I feel like this would be the perfect time to surrender. To learn to let go, to believe in the universe’s ability to work towards what you want. To believe in the unity of all things and the goodness that is in creation.

Desires

When the heart calls, you follow. 
When it speaks to you, believe it.

Love’s only desire is to fulfill itself, but if you need other needs other than love then have the need to know the pain of too much compassion - to be hurt by your own knowledge of love and to hurt willingly and joyfully from it.