“Il fatto che mi basti poco per essere felice non significa che mi accontenti delle briciole. Altrimenti sarei un criceto” ~Italo Calvino
“The fact that I don’t need much to be happy does not mean that I’m content with crumbles. If it were so, I’d be a hamster”.
I absolutely dislike Calvino’s style, works and most of his ideas. “Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore…” is one of the most BORING books I’ve ever read, and I have read long books on the history of Athens, which is not really exciting when it’s just a bunch of Greek names thrown around for five hundred pages.
Still, sometimes -very rarely-, Calvino has a point. This is not the first time I’ve come across this sentence, but it is the first time I’ve found any meaning worth debating in it, so… here I am!
First of all, “happy”. Calvino uses the word “felice”, straight from the Latin “felix” which means “lucky” and “cheerful because of his luck”; it was said of Silla (lat. Sulla, -ae) when he decided to retire from his occupation as the “dictator” (king) of Rome in 79BC [I might be wrong there. Too lazy even to open wikipedia!], because he was absolutely happy with what he had done for the State.
I do not think that one can reach the status of “being happy”: “happiness” sounds too similar to “serenity” to me, so I imagine it as a permanent feeling of absolute quietness with the addition to a lot of energy to do things, both at the same time. I obviously do not feel quiet very often -I tend to be taciturn and uncommunicative when I am in a bad mood or when I am lost in thought, which usually happens in the early morning and late evening- and I am not half as energetic as I feel I should be, so definitely I do not feel like I am “being happy”. I am very satisfied with most things and content with what I can get, but “being happy” sounds like a big think, right?
Even if… if we restrain the meaning of “happy” to “lucky therefore glad and merry”, then I would definitely be happy. Especially because, whilst “being happy” is probably a feeling, just being “happy” is a temporary emotion..? So you could theoretically be “happy” after something nice has happened, and you would “be feeling happy” after a series of good things. But, again, this does not sound quite right because it would be a measurement of happiness, which seems to be more of an infinite concept, therefore not measurable. I mean, you either are dead or alive, they are statuses/ways of being and you cannot be a little alive. Similarly, you are either “feeling happy” or you are “momentarily happy” because of a little something. If a ton of little somethings doesn’t make you forever-happy, though, you will never be that kind of happy and… I am getting a little bit lost (or maybe I just love the present continuous verb tense a bit too much while I should just stop pretending I know how to use it!), but in the end my whole reasoning is: if you shouldn’t, according to Calvino, rejoice because of the crumbles, are you supposed to be greedy and look for more and more and more and more crumbles, all the time?! You would never stop to think “oh how happy I am in this exact moment with these few crumbles I was lucky to find”, you would just go on and collect more and never be satisfied. So you would never get to be happy, not even provisionally-happy! And anyway, how much is happiness a work of yours and to what extent it depends on the environment/things-you-can’t-have-a-saying-in?
However, I probably am a hamster, because I have the feeling of being lucky and therefore get excited over pretty much anything -two words with someone, SNOW, an interesting picture, a title of something I like, people, words in themselves, words rhyming, melodies, conversations, pieces of music, anything.
Does this whole post lead me to conclude that I am an introvert hamster?!
This is starting to make no sense at all. Alla prossima!