F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote of a time, shortly after his marriage to Zelda and the publication of This Side of Paradise, when he experienced a moment of depression so extreme that he burst into tears while riding through the city in a taxi. He cried, he said, “because I had everything I wanted and knew I would never be so happy again.”
Now there are all sorts of reasons for depression, but if he was anywhere within shouting distance I’d say, ”Come off it, Fitzi, this one just doesn’t meet the test.”
I am past the point of having everything I ever wanted. I can remember having a stimulating and challenging vocation, a large and comfortable home with my family close around me, vigorous health, and a growing investment account. That was then.
Now I have reached the point in my retirement years where I have to pause to consider why I am getting out of bed in the morning; I have no job to go to, no yard to mow or flower beds to weed. My wife and I have downsized, our investment accounts are flowing in the wrong direction, our nearest family member is six hours away, and advancing years are taking their toll on our health and vigor.
But I do get up every morning, and I remain as happy as I was in “better” years. It’s a simple matter of faith and trust. Early in life, before I achieved what I could later recognize as success, even before I married and had a family, I latched onto a saying of the Apostle Paul that has been a watchword during every stage of my life. Paul wrote from prison to his friends at Philippi at what was obviously a low, low point in his life:
“Not that I complain of want; for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content.”
Grab hold of that. It’s the formula for a happiness that will not go away, come hell or high water.