“Happiness is a butterfly, Try to catch it like every night, It escapes from my hands into moonlight” sings Lana Del Rey in her intoxicating voice, lulling one into a slumber of thoughts. Her magical voice guides one’s soul through a labyrinth of amazement into a world where time stands still, where a million yellow butterflies flutter their wispy wings, silently, stirring the air into a gentle breeze, occluding the blue sky in pinpricks of yellow, likening the wonderland into a million twinkling stars shining forth in broad daylight. Is happiness really a butterfly, sitting very still upon the delicate petals of a velvety flower, breaking forth from her reverie the next minute? Does she never settle, always elusive, and escapes before one can feast his tired eyes in the riot of colours that her wings reflect, gold, orange, red? Is happiness elusive like a butterfly, glittering and drawing us into her magic, disappearing before one can trace the wonder with his eager fingers?
If I were to ask myself this question some time ago, I would have acquiesced, nodding, fluttering my head in complete agreement. I would have said that happiness is momentary, recalling the lines of a Hindi poem that I had read years ago which described happiness as a fleeting strike of lightning between two grey rainy clouds of sorrow. I would have argued that a grey hue of melancholy is the predominant colour in the canvas of our lives where happiness makes a fleeting appearance like a stroke of yellow paint randomly brushed across the overpowering grey. Romanticizing sorrow, I would have said that happiness has to be sought, is the mystical hidden Leprechaun’s pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, and keeps fading before one can bathe in its manna of joy. I recall, growing up my only answer to ‘your ambition when you grow up’ in the slam-books used to be ‘happy’ always assuming that sorrow was inherent, overpowering and ubiquitous. I would smirk at those who blatantly and grossly believed that happiness was just there, seldom to never agreeing. They laughed at me, and I laughed back at their ignorance, while I had been ignorant all along!
Happiness is always present around us, and so is melancholy; there perhaps is no clear distinguishing demarcation between the two emotions for they blur and merge. They do not wail around us like the unannounced burst of a sudden gale. Happiness cannot be entirely likened to the pleasantly surprising magical pixie dust of gold nor can melancholy embody a turbulent suffocating smog of dampness, but together they ebb and fall like a lulling breeze, soundless and gentle. They live inside us, with us, in the convolutions of the mind, in our senses, waiting to be embraced and accepted with equal gusto and vigour, patiently waiting upon us as we choose one over the other.
No I have not attained Nirvana, nor have I learnt it all but of this I am quite certain-happiness was all along around me, smiling at my ignorance, at my blindness, she was not the sudden strike of purple lightning, leaving me with a loud thunderous bang, signalling her departure. She had been waiting for me to wake up from a murky slumber, patiently observing as I cleanse my ignorance, smiling effervescently to her mate, melancholy, and the yang to her yin. Happiness may seem to scurry like a dancing butterfly but in her supposed absence she leaves behind traces of the powdery joy upon our fingers, reminding us that she is a constant, always present. Happiness is not an elusive winged creature but fluttering and delicate, promising her return, happiness is the quintessential joyous butterfly.