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The Seasons of Happiness
a journey through the trials, tribulations and achievements of a lifetime


In the beginning was awareness, a sensation of comfort and warmth, of darkness. There were also experiences - sounds and sensations - but all were abstracted, from somewhere else. Where was this "somewhere"? Beyond the ambient softness, perhaps; yet, not even knowing what or where "here" was, life was simply beyond comprehension. A child in the womb just is, and little more.

Then one day the pleasant ululating dreams ceased. Being born was nothing like before. Sounds were louder, the gentle comfort replaced by a sudden and harsh reality of pain, of rough handling, of strange feelings on body and arms, and everywhere. As for the warmth, it had gone. A new life had stepped from a halcyon Utopia into a stark and chilly winter.

The concept of time was unknown. There were no days or nights, merely a progression through hunger to satisfaction, to sleep, to discomfort, and back to sleep. Reasons never mattered, only that needs were met. And they were, in particular by a familiar being, someone very close whom the child had known instinctively from its conception to now. In that knowledge, the infant discovered that winter was not as dark as it might have been.

There had always been sounds. Added to this were smells and tastes - all strange, some pleasant and acceptable, others bitter and repulsive. An awareness of light through closed lids gradually cleared as they opened to perceive images; blurred at first, gradually taking form. A face loomed above: a mother's face which smiled with lips whispering sweet breath; and eyes sparkling with love from a heart the infant felt a part of and had lain near.

Life began in earnest through this eventful winter. Time still had no meaning, but every day was filled with new discoveries; while each tomorrow promised so much more; and this was wished for in an instant. When it came, it had passed to become another day, then another. A friend was made, a game played. Captivating arrays of shapes and colours lined the shelves of shops, grew in green parks, drove along grey, bitumen roads, and soared overhead through blue skies. This truly was a wonderful world, yet a winter it remained: for, in what was already known and had been learned, there was a yearning for something pending; and there lingered a feeling that this season, like the birth from which it came, was a precursor of a greater awakening that could not come soon enough.


A new season had begun to wax, but so slowly that it was barely noticeable. Family life continued much as it had, yet there was an inexplicable feeling of some magical secret door soon to be unlocked. How soon, though? Until now, mentors had set restrictions, insisting what was best or otherwise for the child; yet apparently these same adults were not bound by their own rules. Age must have had a bearing because, with the advent of spring, the first milestone of a series marked the beginning of an unfamiliar road so far untravelled. This next journey, the child thought, must be to somewhere very special; was perhaps allied to a specific birth date permitting entry into the previously forbidden world of grown-ups.

That date must have come. The first hints of a change had been creeping in over a period. Recent shopping expeditions for new clothes seemed peculiarly important, more so than in the past. Around the home an air of anticipation tempered by apprehension heralded something different about to happen. Then, on a day when the child was usually escorted to a place of fun and face-painting, they passed it by, continuing on to a large, austere advanced seat of learning. Dressed exactly alike, children of the same age clung crying to parents at the gates of a courtyard milling with older strangers similarly attired. Some grown-ups appeared from the crowd and spoke kindly with the new arrivals before ushering them away from parents who merely stood and allowed this abduction without protest. Over-the-shoulder tearful pleas were met with indifference; and when the ones they had trusted all of their lives turned and walked away, a spring which had seemed so promising adopted an ugly guise.

Primary school it was called, and there were more rules, in particular some unwritten ones. Whichever grade the child was in determined the level of respect. Those of lesser years were looked down on; those above feared. Friendships formed among peers were forever today, not so strong tomorrow, and a day later friends occasionally became sworn enemies. These fickle, ever-changing relationships taught more of life than classroom lessons; and the social skills learned as a result would be totally necessary for approaching the secondary stage of education.

This proved much harder, closer to adulthood which many assumed they had already attained. Those who believed so knew everything there was to know; shunned criticism and advice; and declared themselves to be the new race which would right the wrongs of the past and have a damned good time doing it.

Drugs were readily accessible for those who knew where to look; and alcohol, an apparent pleasure still denied as it had been for so long, was suddenly, secretly obligatory. Sex education in school was laughable, considering most students knew more than their teachers. Passing the driving test was a licence to commit high-speed suicide on a newsworthy scale. Classical music was out, rock and heavy metal in; the louder the better. Whatever adults had taught was rubbish: this was the time of a new generation which was wild and bullet-proof.

There were many, however, who came to the eventual conclusion that some of what they had been taught might have merit. They graduated to university, acquired jobs, began careers and entered into relationships which often continued into later years. Life for them was not so much about living for the moment in the most outrageous way possible: their focus was on preparing for the next step. Soon enough, the spring of adolescence and experimentation was drawing to a close; and in the wake of those heady days, the season approaching was destined to be the cruise of a lifetime for the considerate ones who had already bought and paid for their tickets.

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