Applying for Happiness.

In just under the past seven months, I’ve traveled to: Ft. Myers, Miami, Nashville, Atlanta, Bahamas, Salt Lake, Jackson Hole, Tetons, Yellowstone, Denver, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Traverse City, Bay Harbor, Toronto, Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Sc and several places in between. I can’t even begin to tell you why. There was never any rhyme or reason. I only held on to hope that fate would finally run its course and explain to me why it’s taken so long to make sense of this confusion that I am so desperately trying to rid myself of as I take flight or gas up the truck. I’ve tried tossing my sadness and failure upon my beaten paths as I led my life with a show must go on mentality all while struggling to lift my head up in order to deceive a stranger of the sadness that flows throughout me. With heartbreak and mistakes in my rearview mirror, I sought after subtle signs of purpose. I’m a strong believer in an incredibly unlikely force of nature that would put me in the right spot, at the right time. Not in Toledo, or Ohio, but in Somewhereville that will hit me like a train and structure my life in a way I’ve always dreamt of. Knowing that my love and purpose in life, especially my failures were all in order to bring me to this one spot to change my life for the better. I’m still looking, waiting, and hoping…

I’ve seen some amazing things on my adventures (especially in Wyoming, where a piece of my heart still lies). However, I’ve come up short to this point. I’ve discovered myself just as much in my backyard as I had thousands of miles away. I’ve come to terms that it’s going to be a total crap shoot on when, where, and how I can capture my lifelong smile. Taking initiative, being aggressive, and pursuing life does not lead to any more answers than a knock at my door while I sit upon my living room floor alone. Either way, tragedy and greatness can occur at any given moment. This scares the hell out of me. To have limited control of certainty and my vision of how I want to shape my life is nothing but a constant worry that supplies me with nothing more than a handful of sleepless nights per week.

Not unlike my travels, my support emotionally has been just as sporadic, erratic, and unpredictable. I fear that I’ve complained and leaned upon my family and friends for far too long to receive any more undeserving sympathetic words of wisdom. To my complete surprise, I’ve received encouragement and support through the most of unlikely. I found myself opening up emails from people I have never met. I read comments on my blog from complete strangers. People that took the time to reach out to me. Not with a small simple gesture, but with suggestions and compassion. I’ve cried. A cry where I cursed my struggles and grasped onto this amazing, yet shocking joy of happiness that has blindsided me. It has been a tremendous uplifting experience to know that outside of the confines of this small family oriented city I live in, there is another world out there full of people that can relate and sympathize with this path I have been given in life. I can not put a number on how many people my words have reached, but I now know that describing my feelings with “paper and pencil” has become a welcoming remedy to understand that life isn’t necessarily easy for anyone. Struggles are just not announced within blogs for anyone to read at their free will. Everyone deals with issues and in all different capacities. I am just trying to accept this and especially mine as a reality of life.

This is just one of the messages I have received: (we have never met): I happened upon your blog thru instagram (bblue0428) and I couldn’t not leave a comment, in fear of being one of “those” lurkers. You have a gift and are such a beautiful writer. i’m not writing to give advice, but to encourage you to keep going. I read a post of yours where you talk about being a runner…a marathon runner. I, myself, am a runner. I have completed four marathons. It may sound corny but life is a lot like marathon. I am sure you remember the time consuming training, the sweat, the pain…but most of all I am sure you remember the feeling of reaching your goal, of crossing the finish line. As a fellow runner, I want to tell you to keep pushing through the pain, keep running this race. There is some for you…someone waiting at that finish line.
This, along with the others, have had a profound effect upon my outlook on finding happiness. Do not ever assume that reaching out to someone will not have an enormous impact on the stability of foundation that will enable them to eventually find balance on their own. This. Is. Priceless.

Finding happiness on a daily basis has become priority number one for me. I’ve pinned relationships, marriage, and children as possibly the deciding factor within the past few years. I know that at my age, pressure does build and places limitations that contribute to the odds of possibility. Being with someone is very important to me, however, marriage may not be something I am capable of. Marriage is a concept that was derived from religion and not a human need. I can accept this to be a factor, but society has grasped marriage and shoves it in our faces that nearly makes it impossible to ignore. Happiness comes and goes. Some days, I will love who I am and what I have become. Other days, I feel an extreme sense of failure and helplessness. Without happiness, my life is a constant struggle to do anything with priority. Paying bills, cleaning, and sleeping are just a few examples of what I am incapable of. I need to find balance in my life that will not settle for mediocrity. The mundane lessens of happiness presents itself and allows me to feel comfortable with my current stance within this life. This is my greatest desire.

I am beyond thankful to have a job and to have one that has provided me the opportunity to live a life on my own. I just can no longer accept this justification to become a permissible answer to why I do something for fifty hours a week that I find absolutely no self worth and gratitude for. (Especially when I’m salary). Does life really have to be like this? Is all work, really just work? If I was able to do something I loved, would I eventually evolve to hating that as well? Is it because nothing lies on my own terms? I’d love to write, or take photos, or travel for a living. Working for something other than just a paycheck would bring a tremendous amount of happiness to my life. Material possessions are the least of my desires, but waking up and doing something I love and making an impact on others while having the ability to have a roof over my head is my biggest goal at the moment. How can I surround myself with opportunity? Like my travels, I’ve hoped fate would suggest and lead me on this path that would never allow me to feel pain and sorrows ever again. Especially Monday-Friday.

Every male in my entire family joined the military. My Uncle was drafted into the Vietnam War, and my father did not find that fair, so he volunteered while others dodged. I enlisted directly after High School and told my recruiter that I wanted to be in combat arms, because If I’m joining, I’m fighting for my country. Although the military was not for me, I am proud to have served my country. I am a reliable and focused driven individual when it involves doing something I am passionate about. Specifics that I continually stay focus upon until I see it all the way through. School was always far too general for me and my mind wandered from the priority of a higher education to ever succeed with any book smarts. I’ll never have a degree and If I did, what gates would it have ever opened? I never found myself and I’ve never narrowed down what I love professionally. My father was a truck driver and I grew up with the notion that you do what you can, to support your family. We were a blue collar, military, factory and dirty finger nails family. We were blessed but never privileged and I was raised to understand that happiness was often secondary to a paid bill.

After evaluating this past year and all my travels and tribulations, some of my happiest moments happen here, in this city that has never allowed me an escape route towards my ultimate goals of pure happiness. Getting in my truck, rolling down the windows, and listening to “country soul” music, while driving with no direction into the country has supplied a permanent smile upon my face. Taking photos of the beauty we so often pass is something I will not take for granted. I will not overlook this moment of joy for any amount of money. The other day I was taking photos by the river and saw a fish several feet off the bank desperately gasping for life. I hate seeing anything die and I also despise touching a fish, so I had quite a dilemma. I spent the next fifteen minutes trying to free the fish from the rocks and set it up stream. I did and I also fell into the river. This made me happy. I went up to the local bar and grill by myself for dinner the other night and sat by a gentleman in his late 70’s from Denver that was here for the National Handball Tournament. We talked for an hour. I respect anyone older than me and value their advice. This made me happy.

As you can see, I know what happiness is and how even the smallest form of it makes a huge impact. I just do not want to settle with its inconsistency any longer. I need to supply myself with the opportunity to become happy every day, all day. At the very least, surrounding myself with the tools to allow myself the chance to succeed at this and in return, become happy. Allowing others to capitalize on what I was able to find and spread possibility to those around me. This is my biggest dream and I will do anything to exchange it for reality. Including a paycheck. Happiness would allow me the ultimate chance to become the individual I so desperately need in order to share my life with another. These are the roots of life and the foundation that I need to begin to step upon each and every morning from here on out. Please grant me this opportunity.

Sincerely,
Eric Shanteau

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2 responses to “Applying for Happiness.

  1. Eric you are and always have been a creative, funny, wonderful person. I trust you will find what you are looking for in life. Your pictures are amazing, drawing new light on a town i grew up in. You have a way about you that puts a smile on your company’s face just being around you. Keep at it, I look forward to seeing what is around the bend from one Eric Shanteau.

  2. I am glad that my comment made an impact. I am happy to be one of the ones standing along your race course cheering for you. Keep running.

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