I’m writing this post on the balcony of a condo in downtown Austin I moved into about a month ago. In my opinion it’s the about nicest view you could possibly get in the city. It’s a small condo, and from any room right now I can see the entire skyline brilliantly lit across the shimmering water of the lake. There’s a light breeze I hear in the trees, a distant hum of traffic and steady chirping of crickets.
I’m not rich by any means so I wouldn’t know, but I’ve heard it said many times over that when you get a lot of money, you realize that the money you’ve been chasing doesn’t give you what you want. Not if what you’re trying to do is fill a void in yourself with the money. I know happy people who are well off, and sad people too. I’m sure most of us would prefer the well-off scenario.
So it isn’t money I have, but I do have the beautiful waterfront view – something I’ve wanted for several years now.
I love it – I’m not complaining – I’m really grateful in fact. But it reminds me of I’ve known in the background: external circumstances really don’t have much to do with happiness or fulfillment. They are icing on the cake, but if the cake is for shit the icing doesn’t do much.
So maybe this is something new I’ve learned. Having more of what you want superficially highlights the more important things you’re missing deep down. Maybe this is one of the reasons lottery winners have it so bad – when you’ve got all of the good external things, there’s really nothing else to blame. The deeper happiness isn’t about all of that – it’s about the decisions you’re making, the direction in your life, the relationships you cultivate, how much you’ve learned to be at peace with yourself and accept the bad times and the good times. Things like that. At least as far as I’ve figured out.
Of course, like I said, I’m not rich or even that well off – I just have a place with a nice view now. I can still pine for other things to distract myself. Or I can go meditate.
Still, it’s a damn nice view.