To Happiness

Credits: Inès Shiri.

Being happy, to me, means wanting to wake up when you go to bed. These nights when, as you finally turn off all the lights in your apartment, a smile shines on your face in the expectation of sunrise and the discoveries it promises, life is beautiful. You let yourself fall into Morpheus’s arms, fulfilled by the past, confident that the future is bright.

By Hugo Cote-Petit-François

You hear your alarm ring and painfully stretch your arm to snooze it. But once you’re up on your feet, you feel the freshness of life, renewed every day and yet meaningful only in its continuity.

That cup of coffee you so desperately need to wake your neurons is charming you with its smell—you live.

You have plans for the day, too many, and the thought of moving through time like a butterfly fluttering about your calendar enthuses you. You close the door, not looking back, despite this warm satisfaction which animates you.

Your heart is overflowing with energy and joy. But you don’t even notice it. Perhaps the only sign revealing your state to your eyes is this unusual amazement you taste while looking at the blue sky reverberating in the calm waters of the Sablettes—what makes it so special?

Maybe it is the stars in it, that you can’t see, but on one of them, you know that a friend is watering a rose. Or maybe it’s that glass of wine drunk between the same sky and sea, surrounded by people dear to your heart, hearing the distant accents of the waves crashing against Bastion. Yes, it’s probably that—I mean, the people.

Jon Krakauer said: “Happiness is only real when shared.”

(Sorry Urkund, I shall skip the footnote on that one…) It sounds a little unsophisticated, but it’s true. I haven’t had to go live in the middle of a forest covered with snow to realise that (I come from one, that’s enough). But O, how close a desk full of books, covered with paper and ink, and whose only warmth is that of the cup of tea anxiously sitting between Rogan and Filiu, can be to an abandoned bus in Alaska…

Most of us come here with, at least somewhere down their list of priorities, the desire to seek knowledge. And, as much as we can complain about professors teaching in a language they don’t speak, or others even teaching in a meta-language that doesn’t exist, I think we can agree that

this irremediable thirst for understanding which moves us has been partly satisfied, after two years in Sciences Po.

But compare this to feeling of the sun shining on your skin in a sunny afternoon of September. “Meeting” a new statistical function, as exciting as it seems, is far from being as blissful as finding comfort in your own existence—and thus, books seem quite heartless compared to human beings: What makes a library beautiful, if not the hearts beating in it, and behind the pages on its shelves?

I guess this is leading me to my main argument. True happiness is having something for your heart to beat for. A passion. Leaving on vacation extraordinarily (or whatever you make of that sentence). The spontaneity of a life continuously renewed, and the certitude that every day that comes will bring its own lot of unforeseen joys and smiles. In 1952, Albert Camus wrote in Retour à Tipasa:

Quand une fois on a eu la chance d’aimer fortement, la vie se passe à chercher de nouveau cette ardeur et cette lumière. Le renoncement à la beauté et au bonheur sensuel qui lui est attaché, le service exclusif du malheur, demande une grandeur qui me manque.

This is a lesson I choose to follow. As we are approaching the dusk of our two years in this little piece of heaven on earth, let us not forget that it is only after the sun has set that the blossoming jasmine releases its truest and most intimate smell. So breathe. Stretch out your wings. And take off—towards the sea.

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