Personal happiness is a luxury. We all face tragedies and problems that attempt to break our foundation. Some people experience more suffering than others, but it is ultimately pointless to compare ourselves with other people. It is true that you cannot change what happens to you, but you can surely change how you react to it. This is how you can have control over your life and how it affects others.
Substance abuse and drug addiction has been on my mind lately for three reasons: 1) I’m reading a journalistic expose on the failure of the drug war, 2) the third season of “Orange is the New Black” starts off in a heart-breaking fashion, and 3) I saw the trailer for the Amy Winehouse documentary this week. What all three of those things have in common is that they involve people and their pursuit of happiness. Happiness is something we all want and feel that we deserve. As a result, people will go to any lengths to get it and sometimes those lengths can be devastating. However, you are not just hurting yourself in those difficult times. You are also causing those around you pain.
“Coming Down” by Dum Dum Girls speaks to me as a song about drug abuse. I know that it is actually about a personal relationship breaking up and the aftermath of coming down from that love high, but I’m choosing to look at the context differently. I know my recent media consumption is affecting this altered view, but I don’t care.
Against a soft, droning beat similar to the album “The Trinity Sessions” by Cowboy Junkies or even Mazzy Star’s entire discography, Dum Dum Girls paints a melancholy landscape to set the stage for the song. It is moody and brimming with allusions of heartache from a sensory perspective. The lead singer starts things off without any delusion of why she is there. She’ll take anything she can get and when she closes her eyes to get closer to the object of her desire in her imagination, she is only left a faint taste in her mouth. From then, she tries to leave. She can’t. She wants this object of desire to pull her back strongly and keep her high. However, this object of desire proves to be heartless for the pain it inflicts on those who are around. I feel the lyrics paint a dramatic tale of substance abuse; the ultimate bad relationship where you feel powerless and without control.
I know my interpretation of the song may be a stretch, but I stand by it. It is fitting since relationships can come in all forms. And that is key element: relationships. When we cannot achieve the personal happiness that we think we deserve, it is isolating. It creates a lonely feeling coupled with paranoia; not only do people not care about you, but they are out to hurt you as well. Even the music video conveys this imagery as the singer’s dress is cut piece by piece by people around her.
Why is it that our happiness stems from our social interactions and relationships with people? Humans are social creatures, which is true. We may look inward and try to find the strength and confidence to make ourselves happy, but I believe that is impossible. That is why we look for happiness. That is why we pursue it in a needle, with a lover, in a book, or anywhere else. We cannot generate a significant level of happiness in complete isolation.
We all struggle to find our happiness. And if your path is leading you down a dark road, reach out. There are people who care. Love those around you and do not be hesitate to be happy.