I met a man that once told me.
“I have no choice other than to be angry.
Things happen in this world to be angry about.
They happen every day.
And it is false to be happy in a wronged world.”
It made me think I was a bit naive in my search for happiness. I had been searching for it my whole life. No matter how bright the day was, there was this little cloud that seemed to hang over my head. I could advise you the best way to see the bright side of things, and I genuinely believed my own advice. But I couldn’t always feel what I spoke. I tried for a very long time.
I guess maybe his words hit me, thinking that maybe I was sad because there was so much sadness in the world. I noticed it in all things. Since I was a child i was something I couldn’t shake.
Maybe we aren’t products of our environments, but maybe we are. Maybe our experiences as children set in motion a wave of energy. Maybe his was anger, maybe mine was melancholia.
No matter how happy I found myself to be, a sadness sat somewhere deep inside.
I met this wise man in a peculiar way. A couple very close to me recommended I go see him while I was backpacking in California. He was the co-founder of an organization in Kenya that had the mission of wildlife preservation. It was called Big Life. He was a photographer that fell in love with elephants that he saw slowly being depleted in the region. He got angry about it, and decided to do something to change it. He now puts much of his photography efforts, and funding into Big Life. He may come off as a bit offputting to some, but I believe he is just ….real. He feels what he feels, and he reacts. He doesn’t get angry, and walk away. He gets angry and walks forward.
He told me if I wanted to meet him, I’d have to come to his estate. And I wasn’t to take any personal photos of him. He hated photos. I agreed. I drove up the hills of Malibu until service disappeared, and so did other homes and cars. His home was heavily gated, and once I was able to get into the estate I found him waiting for me by the tennis court.
He showed me around the estate. It was expansive, and gorgeous. It was actually the home of Jack Nicholson, the actor. This man told me that he was gutting the entire house because he didn’t like the energy left behind. He actually said he only purchased the estate for his wife who was a traveling Irish actress. She was never home, and he didn’t like staying in the house.
So he took me to where he did enjoy. And it happened to be a safari tent from Kenya on the peak of the property. Up on the mountain overlooking the valley. It was beautiful. His whole life was in that tent. He loved it there. He was at peace there. He told me he’d get arrested if the police knew he was living in a tent, because there were burn bans in the area due to the drought. But he didn’t care, the tent was his home, and that peak was where he found peace.
We sat at a picnic table overlooking the valley. He told me about his neighbors. The neighbor he disliked the most was Shiloh Lebouf, the actor. Apparently Shiloh enjoyed shooting off blanks into the valley for no apparent reason, and although Nick had contacted him about it he continued to do so.
It was interesting to sit there with this man who had so many complaints about his life. To sit and listen to him, but know what beauty he had created in this world. What beauty he had created in his mission, beauty he had created through his art. And you couldn’t help, but love him for his anger. His anger meant so much more, than so many people’s worlds of happiness. His anger created change. I could sit there and tell him what a beautiful character he had become in the world’s story, but the words would mean nothing to him because there were still other reasons to be angry. And until there was none there was no reason to celebrate.
And I thought to myself, maybe it’s ok to love this cloud of sadness that moves with me. A cloud that never leaves my side. It reminds me to be human, to feel, to forgive, to fight, to fix, to create. And this sadness within me, it pushes me to help others. To reach out while reaching in. And it pushes me to do my best of creating positive light in a world of darkness. It sometimes may seem that being happy over being sad is the ultimate goal, but sometimes being true to yourself means feeling all the the things that the world is showing you. Do not be afraid of emotion. Do not mask them with pills, or therapy, or doubt. Just feel. It’s ok to not be the happiest person on the planet. I am not going to try to me anymore, and neither should you.