As I continued along my path of no particular direction, a clown appeared at the roadside. When I approached within an arms-reach, he stopped me with a question. What is happiness, he asked in a mild tone of no significant colour. Happiness is making people smile. For when people smile, they are happy. Does this mean, then, he continued whilst releasing a balloon of no significant colour into an absent breeze, does this mean that the physical act of contorting ones face into the a position known as ‘smile’ is directly congruent with happiness. I smiled black and told him that I was not particularly happy. He rebuked, no, not particularly happy, but you are happy nonetheless. For no person of complete unhappiness can smile. I have spent my entire life making people smile and I can tell when a smile is the wrong colour – it is opaque, pastiche, an empty husk.
I smiled white and drew another question. They came from an old deck of cards I had found in the breast pocket of my jacket. Though they had clearly been there for a very long time, it appeared they had been unused. Okay, so if a smile means happiness, what does happiness mean and how do we attain it. Another balloon slipped from a white-gloved hand, a black balloon, and with no wind in the air the shape simply grew smaller before our eyes until it was painted over by a sky of no particular colour. To begin, you must realise that happiness and unhappiness are not opposites, they are not even two sides of the same coin – they are. They are one and the same. That you cannot smile and be unhappy is the same as the inability to be unhappy and smile. But then we must remember, as these balloons teach us, that just because I am not smiling does not mean I am not happy and nor does it mean I am not unhappy. From the bloom of happiness comes unhappiness and out of the ashes of unhappiness comes happiness – it is as the cycle of seasons, the progression of elements, your theory of relativity. It is Dao.
We do not become happy or un-happy – it is a constant state bound by the only constant which exists in the universe: change.
He let one more balloon into the air – a white balloon – and handed the last balloon to me. It was of no particular colour.
It cannot be taken and cannot be given for it has no governing form – it is innate. I am The Clown. But I do not make people happy – I help them realise their own happiness. However, this can only be achieved by the realisation and acceptance of your own unhappiness. Unhappiness is not innately ‘bad’, that depends entirely on the form of its expression. The Taijitu teaches us that positive and negative are forces both interconnected and interdependent – they cannot exist without one-another. They are complete harmony. The man who bathes forever in happiness carries the same burden as he who is eternally unhappy, for both are unending states which ultimately equate to an inert, meaningless limbo, and it is a life of meaninglessness which is the most horrible death one can endure.
I was unsatisfied by the story this Clown has told me. Out of politeness I tried to smile, but found that I could no longer. He had told me what he believed the meaning of happiness was and had even alluded to the mechanics of how to be happy, but this was not what I was looking for. I wanted something tangible, I wanted to see laughs of joy and tears of despair; I wanted masochism. I let free the remaining balloon, politely grimaced, and continued along my path.