A couple of days ago I was looking at some old photographs I had and remembered the time I was in college, I won’t tell you about my personal experiences nor will I talk about new age beliefs or so, what I actually remembered from my college days was something one of my classmates once told me.
To give a little perspective before proceeding, he was a commited student even if not very bright, but that didn’t stop him from studying hard every day and paid more attention to class than a single man judging a beauty pageant. It took him about 2 hours to get to college from his home and other 2 to get back, to me, that’s a lot. He was humble and didn’t have much money, if any at all since he also had to take care of a small grocery store his father started in the living room of his house before passing away and most of the money from the store went to pay the bills, or bailing out his sister from jail. His mother was uncaring, but as far as he told me she didn’t treat him wrong at least. And in appearance he’s the kind of guy you usually ignore, but I didn’t for some reason or the other.
So every day we would come to class and it was bussiness as usual, and during every break we got I would try to sleep on my desk or draw or something, and to my right there he was, still studying. If a conversation started you would immediately notice he’s the kind of person that would never wrong you, he had that air about him that made it impossible to think bad of him, and you’d be right, he’s probably the most noble person I’ve met so far, hell I’ll never be as good of a person as him even if my life depended on it. But the other thing you would also notice about him is that he was always happy, and not the kind of happy that tries to hide sadness away, despite his background story I can honestly say this wasn’t the happyness to hide sorrow case. I was envious.
One day came when I wanted to know more about him, knowing how horrible of a person I was (am), it was not merely because I wanted him as a friend, rather I wanted to learn how was it that he irradiated happiness stronger than the sun emitting light. I do not regret asking him about himself, but being completely honest, I felt like sh$%.
I literally began the conversation with “Man, how come you’re always so happy?”, he laughed, but then his face turned a bit serious for a few seconds, as if organizing his thoughts (at least that’s what I think it was), then he looked up with a half smile and began to tell me his story.
“Where should I start? It’s not that I’m happy because something good happened to me or because I feel lucky or blessed in any way. Actually, maybe it is the opposite ha ha ha. I’m from — (you don’t need to know that) but my family moved to the city when I was little, ever since then things didn’t really worked out for us. We run a grocery store at our house, it isn’t fancy and we barely make it every month with the money we get, but it keeps us fed… somewhat, and that’s actually very good, so I cannot complain. My father passed away a few years ago, and after that my mother started drinking, you know how some people do that sometimes, don’t you? But overall she’s calm and I believe she’s getting a little better with each passing year, but I wouldn’t recommend getting near her when she drinks more than she should.”
“I also have two sisters, one of them is already married and lives her life with her new family, so we don’t see her too often, the other one, well… she still hasn’t figured out her life all too well and sometimes gets into trouble, just a week ago I had too pay to get her out of jail again ha ha ha. Money is always an issue and sometimes I wish she was more responsible and to help me with the store or the house, but I love her nevertheless, you don’t get to pick your family, but even with all their flaws I wouldn’t change mine. But anyways, I guess there’s no big secret, my life isn’t the hardest, but it isn’t the easiest either, or normal. I wake up every morning when our rooster starts crowing (we both lived still inside the city, so having a rooster was quite rare), I sometimes have breakfast, sometimes not, get ready and come here (college). After the day is over I go back home and take care of our shop, I get plenty of time to do homework while working unfortunately, we don’t have too many customers usually, but that’s ok, that’s why I’m studying engineering, I don’t want us to depend on that shop forever, and I also want to get my girlfriend back he he.”
I interrupted and asked about her.
“Oh there’s not much to say, I’m not even sure if she liked me all that much really, she broke up with me and didn’t tell me why, I don’t understand women well. But well, to be honest, I know I have it hard, perhaps not as bad as others but still, I feel I’ve almost reached bottom if not already. That’s the key, once you reach a point in your life when you feel things cannot be harder, you realize that there are many things that can brighten up your day, like speaking with a friend for example, right? Or finding a coin on the street, or whatever actually. I’m happy because I think I cannot be any worse and because I want to in summary ha ha ha.”
I know his story wasn’t the most tragic thing you could read, and I’m probably not the best to try and write it down but even so, hearing him as he told me, seeing his expressions serious in some points, smiling in others and so… I don’t know why it almost brought tears to my eyes, I fought myself not to let him know how much I felt his words.
It was how he finished his story what helped me remember it all this time, he’s happy because he can’t be worse, and because he wants to. Despite having valid reasons to feel angry or sad or however anyone else could feel, he chose not to. That was a decision he made, one he kept, and one I try to keep in mind whenever I feel really down.
Happiness was his choice.