Happiness, for the vast majority of the human race, is contingent on material possessions. The primal urge to possess an object, an idea. To savour the sweet hint of victory when you finally own it…….
…..only to move to the next object, as what is owned is no longer desirable.
In simple economic terms, we call it the Law of Diminishing Marginal utility. What can we call it from a human perspective though?
The photograph above was taken earlier this year, while I was on holiday in Cambodia. I was being a regular tourist, minding my own business and clicking away at the temple ruins. People don’t interest me much as subjects for a photo. But something about these four children captivated me.
Completely oblivious to the rabble around them, four little humans with some rather interesting interactions. They were siblings, perhaps. Maybe, they weren’t. In any case, what they were not, is strangers to one another. And as I watched them there, sharing a snack and all peering into a phone, I felt a smile creep up my face.
I did not know those kids and I did not approach them. Somehow, I knew that would ruin it. Because it was one of those random moments in time, where everything is perfect, and every other point in time is irrelevant.
What held me captive, was the myriad of emotions expressed by the children. Let me refer to them by the colours of their shirts.
Little White is content sucking on his candy, whilst watching the girls. Red seems curious, while Pink contemplates, if Red should be allowed into whatever secret the phone holds, like most big sisters do. Yellow looks on, as the protective big brother, like he knew he was born to watch over them.
The picture cannot tell you what happened after, but I can. The two little girls got into a squabble and Yellow had to intervene. With no one watching Little White, he wandered a little further away, tripped over a stone and began bawling. The three older children quit the squabble and immediately rushed over to soothe him.
The moral of the story for me, so I don’t drift away from the point of this post, is that we don’t really need much to be happy, do we? We could always say we’d like the newest phone, or a bigger house, or more money for a holiday. But what we really need, is to be secure in the knowledge that there is someone out there looking out for us, that child like assurance, that everything will be alright, that all we need are the little things to be happy.
We all know it, but wont admit it. We’ve worked too hard, we deserve more. Do we really? What makes you really happy at the end of the day? Your 30 inch flat screen television? The new DVD player? Or is it someone waiting for you at home? A loved one, a pet, a book a few moments of peace?
We try to complicate our lives and clutter it with what we believe are essentials. What if we just try to strip those away?
Give it a try, and look at the world with the same wondering, curious innocence that you had a long time ago as a child. And maybe, if you give in it to just far enough, you’ll find a part of yourself again.