Today I can't quite settle. I want to do some yoga, but I realise I need to feed the dog and by the time I return upstairs, I notice it's time to get ready. I plan to take a walk and it starts raining. I decide to read an essay, and the husband comes into the room and begins calling clients.
Above all, there's the guilt, which is the reason why I'm unsettled, why I can't commit to one action or another. In an essay Natalia Ginzburg writes on the misery of modern life: "One of the worst curses to have befallen us is that we cannot, for a single instant of our lives feel ourselves to be legitimate and guiltless." Something is never quite right, and often I feel it is myself.
Part of the reason I feel so guilty is because I fail to do things that might make me happy in a society that emphasises the pursuit of happiness. We are expected to act every minute of the day as if we want to be happy. As if happiness was accessible through exercise, "wellness", a slew of products designed for maximum self-efficiency and amusement. But I lack self-mastery. I do not want to suppress my sad thoughts. I am incorrigibly melancholic, applying myself to life with the languour of a convalescent, for whom the everyday, with its exhortations and calls for attention, is a source of fatigue.
Only in daydreaming, reading, quiet contemplation is where I find refreshment. Perhaps that is a species of happiness. Rather than approaching sadness as a lack of exercise or things or people in one’s life, it may be better to explore the question of living with sadness and ennui in deeply unfair societies, in which the sources of unhappiness issue from internalised social pressures.