Several weeks ago I was preparing to do my radio show in the basement studios of WRUW. Techno and hip hop blasted for short seconds before being skipped 30 seconds into the future, and then skipped another 30 seconds, then to the next track. Such is the breakneck pace that I set when previewing songs.
Calvin got in early today for one reason or another, and started setting up the turntables that his guest DJ’s use for their live sets. I watched him for a moment in the middle of a snaring break beat trip throttling my senses, and then snapped out of it and ejected the disk. This will get played.
I was about to walk out of the room when I noticed the guy on the other side of the window. Each studio at WRUW looks into the production studio via a large pane glass window. On the other side of this particular window was a 25 year old male, very pale, with large coke bottle glasses and long hair. He was previewing music, and it looked like there wasn’t a thing on this planet he would rather be doing right now.
“You know him?” Calvin asked.
“No, who is he?”
“That’s Steve Who’s Living The Dream.”
Apparently it wasn’t just a Calvin thing. Steve was widely known at WRUW for Living The Dream. You didn’t quite need to ask what that meant, most people intuitively knew, but I asked anyway. It was as I suspected.
Lived with his mom. Didn’t have a job. Just hung out, listened to music and played records on the radio.
I understood his moniker to mean two things that at first I thought were different, but I’ve come to understand are the same thing.
1st: He’s a loser.
2nd: He’s doing exactly what you always wanted to do.
Whenever the meaning of life comes up, I’m always pretty comfortable sitting on my cookie cutter answer of “The meaning of life is to be happy.” Ask me what the meaning of happiness is and it gets a little fuzzier, but I don’t think it unreasonable to say it’s up to the individual. If I am only happy knowing I have a successful career, with a beautiful wife and lots of money, then I’ll have to work for that happiness. But if I’m happy just playing records and hanging out, well, why don’t I?
I didn’t ever really attract Steve’s notice, but that didn’t seem to really upset him at all. When I left he was still playing records, scribbling notes on a piece of paper, and generally looking more content with himself than anyone I’ve noticed in a while.
Our requirements for happiness are often a lot more complicated than we would ever like to admit. I’d love to say that the joy of hiking in the wilderness does it for me, but I’d be lying to say that when I’m out there I don’t miss mp3’s, the internet, and Cleveland. Of course, when I’m back in Cleveland all I want to do is run away with a backpack and some sandals and live on a beach somewhere until I run out of books.
I don’t think happiness is something you can ever attain. You can get close, but there is always something that puts that twinkle in your eye. Maybe that’s what happiness really is, the twinkle. Every day spent looking towards the next mountain, the next project, the next radio show. Living may be loving the parts, but happiness might just be falling asleep and waking up again.