by Paulo Coelho on November 9, 2012
This is a question that has not bothered me for a long time, precisely because I don’t know how to answer it.
Some people seem to be happy: they just do not think about it. Others make plans: “I’m going to have a husband, a home, two children, and a house in the country”. While this keeps them occupied, they are like bulls looking for the bullfighter: they don’t think, they just keep moving forward. They manage to get their car – sometimes even a Ferrari – and they think that the meaning of life lies there, so they never ask the question. Yet, despite all that, their eyes betray a sadness that they themselves are quite unaware of.
I don’t know if everyone is unhappy. I do know that people are always busy: working overtime, looking after the kids, the husband, the career, the university degree, what to do tomorrow, what they need to buy, whatever it is they need to have in order not to feel inferior, and so on.
Few people have ever told me: “I’m unhappy”. Most say: “I’m fine, I’ve managed to get all I ever wanted”.
So then I ask: “What makes you happy?”
They answer: “I have everything that a person can dream of – a family, a home, work, good health”.
I ask again: “Have you ever stopped to wonder if that is all there is to life?”
They answer: “Yes, that’s all there is”.
I insist: “So the meaning of life is work, the family, children who grow up and leave you, a wife or husband who will become more like a friend than a true love-mate. And one day the work will come to an end. What will you do when that happens?”
They answer: there is no answer. They change the subject.