Happiness

A dark purple sky hangs overhead, stars glazed and twinkling in the moonlight. The town is illuminated by distinct signs of life: cars driving through neighborhoods, lights pouring out of kitchen windows, sounds of a small plane ascending overhead. The faint sound of my friend’s guitar fills the silence as we sit on a bench on the edge of a hill. We sit side-by-side, legs crossed and eyes up at the sky. It feels like we’re on the edge of the sublime, untouchable observers in our own corner of the world.

“Do you think there are people that go through college without ever stressing? Besides tests and grades — do you really think people are happy?” they ask, breaking the silence.

“Probably,” I say, peeling my eyes away from the stars. I glance at the ground, the question pulling me back to the present.

There’s a pause.

“Are you happy?”

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In the Clouds

I’m on a cloud. It’s dawn. The sun is glowing radiantly, with its rays peering through the cracks in the clouds as if they are preparing to unveil a mystery that’s been waiting to be discovered. The clouds around me are reflections of the sun’s golden hues, combining to create a kaleidoscope of colors and signaling the beginning of a new day.

I am alone. I am laying down, hands resting at my sides and eyes pointed at the sky. I am paralyzed in awe, as if the sight in front of me is holding me down, insisting me to stay just one more minute. Forget your obligations. Forget your responsibilities. It feels like a trance or a dream.

Time seems to slow down. For a few moments, I believe everything and anything is possible. Suddenly, I see thousands of images flashing before my eyes. I see myself conquering every fear and every doubt I’ve ever had. I see myself accomplishing the impossible; I am unstoppable. At first, the person I see is unfamiliar. A stranger. But the more I watch, the more I recognize myself. This is me. I am an invincible dreamer up here, in this utopia that embodies my zenith. I am enveloped in warmth, feeling a surge of hopefulness, optimism, fearlessness. The sun beams down at me, shining so brightly that I fight the urge to look away.

But then I look down. I am staring down at the ground, where the force of people and nature together is controlled by reality. It is a reminder. At the basis and foundation of my hopefulness is a place where everything seems to go wrong, full of uncertainty and unrest. I shake my head. I don’t want to go back. But then I feel the warmth of the sun on my back. It reminds me that everything down there works out in an unexpected way. Down there, the beauty comes from within those who emerge from the chaos amidst the negativity and the confusion with their own unique and original thoughts, ideas, dreams, and desires. And the sun still shines, even on the days with the darkest of nights.

My head is in the clouds while my feet are on the ground. I am grounded by the people and the experiences that have shaped the story of my life, including the good and the bad. I am a dreamer, an optimist, a realist. These two places create the balance of how I react, grow, learn, and love.