“Ever read The Brothers Karamazov?” I asked.
“Once, a long time ago.”
“Well, toward the end, Alyosha is speaking to a young student named Kolya Krasotkin. And he says, Kolya, you’re going to have a miserable future. But overall, you’ll have a happy life.”
Two beers down, I hesitated before opening my third.
“When I first read that, I didn’t know what Alyosha meant,” I said. “How was it possible for a life of misery to be happy overall? But then I understood, that misery could be limited to the future.”
The above is a quote from the current book I’m reading, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. I skimmed The Brothers Karamazov in high school, but I don’t remember any of it. I did find this quote spoke to me, though.
How can you live for tomorrow when you curse the night and day? It seems to me, what the author might have meant, is that regardless of your situation it is possible most of the time to be happy in the moment. If you don’t look too much at the horrible or difficult things coming your way, you can enjoy the thing you are doing right now. The cold beer you are drinking, or the sun on your face, or the conversation you’re having–regardless of what awful things lie around the corner.
If you can enjoy the moment, you’ll enjoy your life, even if that moment is surrounded by a past and future of misery.