July 1st 2013
Story originally written and experienced: July 29th 2010
I remember being at the grocery store when she asked me.
I remember, jamming out iPod style in the produce section, serenading the avocados and questionable eggplant to old school N’Sync
My pants vibrated with a phone call. It was my sister. She said.
“Hey! I’ve got 2 extra tickets to the John Mayer concert this weekend. Wanna go? Bring a friend?”
I remember totally playing it cool by the on-sale zucchini
And instantaneously recruiting my amiga Charlotte to join.
And embarking on a 3 man date with our two kick ass selves, and 1 pint sized sister.
And it was kind of incredible. Even if we were far away.
It was dreamy July evening spent laying on the dew-filled grass as we closed our eyes and felt the aftermath of the AM showers drizzle in our hair and on our faces – as we listened to the man jam the fuck out.
And shortly after, we did too.
And in between each ballad and each hit, I remember looking out on the human-drenched lawn. The horizon completely littered with enamored fans.
The air, laced and mixed with potent relaxation and the sweet aroma of summer greens. With every voice that echoed from the lawn or from the stands, either being lyrics or sheer admiration. Some people came by choice. And some simply didn’t. Some clapped after every song. And some just didn’t feel the need to.
But there was one thing. That every different person did. All the same.
About 45 minutes into the show, John struck the last strum of his latest single “Half Of My Heart.” And after wiping his forehead, taking a swig of his water, and patting his fellow bandmates on the back, he looked out into the crowd and requested that everyone quiet down, please. Only for a second. He…he had something to say…and he wanted everyone to hear it. He approached >>>> the microphone. The camera’s zoomed in on his exhausted face. Brown curls overlapping his headband, tattoos glowing for every camera, phone, and camera-phone to see.
And then everyone at the same time got quiet.
When he said
“You know…there are times when it’s awesome to be me..and times where it sucks to be me. Times where…I really just want to disappear. And the thing is, you probably look at me and think that I’m a person who has it all.
A bigger house
A happier life
…And you know, I probably do have
A bigger house
And a seemingly happier life
But I’ll tell you what.
Every day I pass this house. And it’s small. Very small. But it’s a house that has a husband and a wife. And I know that because they kiss each other every day outside his car before he goes to work. And I bet you anything, he’s never cheated on her. And she’s never cheated on him. And you know what else? I bet if they were really to stand there and think about it, they could genuinely stand in front of a house like mine. Point >>> to it and say,
‘I am happier than you.’
…And you know what else? I find a really strange happiness when I think about if, by chance, this small house were to ever burn down. But I only get happy because I really think that if it were to happen?
They wouldn’t have lost the things they really needed, or things they really wanted, or what they define themselves by.
Trophies, awards and expensive things.
Because the only irreplaceable thing? Is standing right next to them.
And I’m not so sure I could say the same for the big house.
II He paused II
Took another swig of his water. Another run through his hair.
And continued >
…You know, I may not ever be as epic as the Rolling Stones.
All I really want is to be good enough to be happy.
And if you’re wondering where the Rolling Stones are now? They’re fucked up and delusioned. And I really think that I’m happier than they are. The problem I’ve kind of realized through doing what I do and being where I am, is noticing that people think that
Bigger things mean bigger happiness
You’re probably already happier than most people.
You assume that the rich and the famous are happier than you. But what you’d probably never assume, and you’d probably never know, is that many times we look at you and really envy your private, undisturbed, unanalyzed happiness. And for as lucky as you think we are. We think you’re just as lucky too. If not more lucky.”
And then he serenaded the silence with another song. A throwback. One he knew everyone would love. And one that everyone did.
Later that night when everyone cleared out of the lawn. Elated by the encore. High off of good company, good music and good drugs. They jingled their keys to the parking lot. And put their cars in drive. And I remember doing the same.
And thinking about what John said.
How I really did have that envy and that self-created vacancy he told me I had.
The beautiful blonde who sat across from me in math class felt like the epitome of everything a man could ever want or could ever physically desire. She was the eye candy of every party and every group project. And I guess it wasn’t until I overheard a group of men talking one night at a pre-game saying that “She was a big bitch. And if she didn’t have her body, she wouldn’t have much.” That I realized, the thing I envied, wasn’t necessarily her looks, but rather what she got out of them. And as it turns out, she didn’t really get much.
I went to lunch with a friend the other day. And I remember telling this friend that he had really made it! Really, he had. Big company. Big city. Big paycheck. “And I’m over here just eating Ramen!” And I remember he told me that he really did like his company. And he really did like his paycheck. And he was sure the city was great. But, he wasn’t really sure. Because he was working every day. All the time. Trading in “desired success” for any personal success. And he would do this, at least for a little while. Because he knows a lot of people would kill to be where he was.
Eating dinner at his desk every night wasn’t always so fun. And paying over $1,500 a month to have an apartment that he only ever slept at. Didn’t make him feel as happy as he thought he would. That sometimes he wishes he could trade places with the struggling barista who got off at 4pm. Just for a little bit. So he could spend some time remembering what it felt like to do something that wasn’t fueled by money, and wasn’t fueled by expectation.
The other day when I went to a photoshoot for my job. There was a model there. And her name was Amanda. And she posed for every picture and she smiled with incredible grace. She’d walked runway shows in Milan and signed contracts with the biggest ones you could ever think of. And I remember when we took our lunch break that day. And she ordered a salad and I got one too. And she told me about this one time she moved to Paris to be a part of this show. And in that time she got diagnosed with a nutritional disorder. She was so skinny because…well because her body wouldn’t retain the nutrients she needed and…because of that it made her hair fall out…and because of that she…she didn’t have any hair.
She was a model and she didn’t have any hair.
Can you believe it? The show was coming up. And she would get fired. Her job was to be beautiful, after all. And she begged a local stylist for help. To make her a wig that would never give away her secret. Her disease. And they put her in a chair for 8 hours. And she paid them $6,000. And they made it happen. They made her a wig. And the modeling company never knew. Because if she was anything less than beautiful,
If only for a second
She’s not entirely sure she’d still have the jobs she has today.
And I guess it that moment I realized, being paid/expected to be beautiful, famous and flawless? Every day? All the time? Didn’t seem so glamorous afterall.
But more importantly realizing.
That where I was? And what I was doing? And what I looked like?
Was a lot more desired than I thought it was.
How we all kind of exchange silent envy about each other. Every day. All the time.
And wondering why it’s so difficult to ever look at your own self and say.
“I’m a very happy. And very lucky individual. And the quality of what I have isn’t measured by how many people want who I’m dating, or how much money I make, what kind of job I have, and what kind of job I don’t have.”
The only person’s opinion who can really measure the quality of those things.
And no one else.
And how satisfied and proud you choose to feel about those things? Are your choice as well.
So thanks, John.
For reminding me that
Happiness is defined internally, never externally.
And once you’ve defined it? Or you’ve realized it? And you’re okay with it? And you’ve got it?
Well, not a single soul in the world can buy that from you.