Essays About

In Envy of Unhappiness

Observing teenagers—their self-doubt and theatricality, the earnestness of their flirting, their bleeding desire to be seen, to be loved, to be in love—I envy adolescence. Granted, I am far happier in my early thirties than I was at seventeen, and would not trade places. My teenage years were at sea, which is to say were typical, but in the decade since, I have made landfall, gotten a wife, a career, a home; I have set my lands in order. I have attained much of what I then felt sick with desire to have. But though happy, I am happy within the limits of possibility, whereas my teenage imagination was ignorant of limits. Adolescence attracts me not for the happiness I had, but for the happiness I believed I could have. Desire, not happiness, tastes of the infinite. I felt most alive in those years I would least relive.