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#PoeticLicence: Happiness directs us toward certain life choices and away from others

Author and poet Rabbie Serumula. File image.

Author and poet Rabbie Serumula. File image.

Published Jun 26, 2022


Johannesburg - My aunt gave me the warmest smile she could conjure up on her cold, stark face.

I could hear hope in her voice, a wish for happiness, but her eyes were tired, as was her heart.

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Hearty meals are slowly becoming a myth in that household in Naledi, Soweto - they haven't had electricity for about a year.

My nephews, one her son, the other her sister’s son, used to stay with me a few years ago and they were looking promising.

Sara Ahmed in The Promise of Happiness says that happiness often directs us toward certain life choices and away from others.

It's almost a year since I moved and have been away from them in search of my own happiness, as I have been away from the world.

It was heavy, I had too many mouths to feed. It is still heavy but the weight is different - like how 100kg of steel weighs the same as 100kg of feathers.

I suppose birds of a feather don’t always flock together.

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I suppose self-awareness, the conscious knowledge of one's own character and feelings, is thicker than blood - in the same vein, water may be thicker if you acknowledge the school of thought that says your family can be who you choose and that life on earth cannot survive without water.

How do you keep your sanity when the world keeps wanting from you - when it keeps taking from you on one hand, and on the other placing more hands outstretched towards you, pleading for a handout?

Call it Black Tax evasion if you may, but this poverty, it breaks us and turns us into savages made of rotten rubble.

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It makes us men we are not and complaints when we no longer function.

It drapes us in a black cloak and a scythe.

It shapes us with crushed auras and hopes of returns from our paid tithe.

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It then threads part of a string and weaves it through shattered pieces of our hearts and attempts to mend us. But instead, it creates monsters - at least monsters to other people’s eyes.

German philosopher, Immanuel Kant places the individual's own happiness outside the domain of ethics, a moral philosophy concerned with what is good for individuals and society. But remember that the individual comes first.

American New Thought (a spiritual movement) writer, Wallace D Wattles, said the very best thing you can do for the whole world is to make the most of yourself.

When my aunt asked how I was holding up, I told her I am making the most of myself; and this, indirectly, will benefit her too somehow - I hope it fills her with pride.

She was happy to see me, and I, her. My nephews were filled with optimism, they too saw hope.

So I ask you, dear reader, would you rather be unhappy and drown in morality, or happy and be able to help at your discretion?

Happiness directs us toward certain life choices and away from others.

The Saturday Star