The simple answer? Because it makes them feel fortunate.
Lately I was reading a short story of a blogger who calls herself Athena Minerva. It was titled A life of Halcyon Days . For those among you not familiar with the word Halcyon; it doesn’t refer to a popular sedative (halcion aka triazolam) but denotes a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful.
It was a 35 pages tale about a young introvert woman in search for a soul mate that sounded suspiciously autobiographic.
For a while I couldn’t put my finger upon the reason why the story irritated me. Then I realized; no arc from happiness to despair and back to happiness. The story just sundered on from moderate happiness to extreme bliss. Agreed, there were some little dips where some minor setbacks were experienced, but nothing soul wrenching, aside of an introvert’s tendency to magnify little disturbing signals carelessly emitted by other people.
The reason I gave this story a more than cursive glimpse is that shortly after reading it, I was trying to compose some email to family and friends wherein I wanted to expand about last week’s events and received warnings of my own soul mate not making it sound to blissfully.
I huffed and asked, “Why can’t I tell people that we’re doing fine?”
She answered, “Because they’ll resent you!”
I answered, “But they’re family and friends!”
She retorted, “A reason the more for not making them jealous. People only want to hear from other people as long as they’re more or at least as miserable as they feel.”
It made me reflect about the whole specter of literature. And indeed, Les Misérables wouldn’t have been such a big hit if it would have been called The Fortunate. So it works for many other great works of literature (don’t get me started on this issue …).
It’s always about someone’s misery, the way people called it over themselves and how they were punished for their mistakes. Some literature expands towards a redemption arc, but in such case, we want the protagonists to suffer before they see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Isn’t that a vicious thought?
Anyway, I gave A life of Halcyon Days four stars. Because it made me think about some atavistic human behavior after I almost dismissed the manuscript as insignificant.
And on a more personal note: I’ll not write emails about how we spent the Sunday afternoon on the beach and went for some sangria afterwards. Instead I’ll write about our plumbing problems and the troubles we have to find qualified workers.