Seems it’s Happy Friday at diva Ann Althouse’s blog. She led off this morning at 8:20 AM related Robert Louis Stevenson’s thoughts about the underrated duty of being happy, then 19 minutes later quoted La Rochefoucauld’s quip about happy people rarely correcting their faults (guess that means Bill Maher is one happy fella. Dan, he said, “rarely,” not “never.” –Ed.).
Just six minutes after that, she asked, if there were a “happiness mantra or motto that you’ve found very helpful” and answered with a link of her own. Later, she referenced a happiness bank before quoting my friend David Boaz to answer the question whether Rick Santorum hates freedom and happiness. Her next piece led with the quotation, “I think he showed me a cover of a magazine that said ‘Happiness Is a Warm Gun.’” She then proceeded to contrast, “Romney’s Religion of Happiness” to “Gingrich’s Religion of Grievance.”
And soon would lament “The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness.” As compensation perhaps, she cited a Gallup poll finding “that by almost any measure, people get happier as they get older…” “Happiness,” she offered in a subsequent post, “is more like knowledge than like belief.” And listed, “5 Things You Think Will Make You Happy (But Won’t).”
She would soon furnish a clever quip, “I have told myself a hundred times that I would be happy if I were as stupid as my neighbor, and yet I would want no part of that kind of happiness.” Finally, she found “the secret of happiness and virtue — liking what you’ve got to do.”
It was most serendipitous that I would linger on Ann’s blog today. Perhaps the happiness drew me in. You see, I’ve been re-reading the Odyssey and today revisited Odysseus’s misery on the island of Ogygia, by conventional wisdom a straight man’s paradise, beautiful beaches, distant from the outside world, his wife far away, an eternally youthful and nubile nymph eager to bed him. And yet when first we see the hero, he suffers terribly amidst all these sensual pleasures, “his sweet life flowing away/with the tears he wept for his foiled journey home”.
He longed for his mortal wife, Penelope, preferring her aging beauty to the ageless embrace of a busty immortal. That great king would not find happiness until Penelope recognized him as her husband, the goddess Athena then prolonging the night of their reunion so they could both lose themselves in love and share each other’s stories.
Perhaps it’s the ability to share stories which makes for our happiness in this world. And for real marriage.
Maybe that explains in part, the paradox of declining female happiness. Fewer have chosen marriage. An important point to make in the case for gay marriage. And all too often avoided by all too many of its advocates.