The Happy Man

Sid Sanghvi
3 min readOct 16, 2020

Inspired by True Events

Photo by Joe Caione on Unsplash

It was a gloomy Sunday night. The rain, the thunder, the lightning… seemed to be everpresent — like the past two days.

And there we were: My mom, dad, two grandmas, and me. Waiting. Waiting for the clock to strike 9 PM.

When the time came, like clockwork, the phone rang. My dad picked it up.

“Hi doc”

“I just sent the reports, did you get them?”

“No, not yet, let me check my email and call you back”

Dad opened his inbox, and there it was. 5 reports.

First, my paternal grandma, 85 years of age: Negative. A collective sigh of relief.

Next, my maternal grandma, 79: Positive.

My dad, 52: Positive.

My mom, 52: Positive.

Me: Positive.

We all think fate will look kindly upon us — irrational optimism they call it — but the cards, like always, were non-deterministically dealt.

In any case, once again, there we were. Flummoxed. COVID-19 Positive, in spite of taking every possible precaution.

The next day, as decent people do, we made our phone calls to those we had met in the past few days.

One such obligation was to our apartment building members. So, after sending a brief message conveying our circumstance on the residents’ group chat, we accompanied it with a group photo of us, the infected, smiling.

The photo was captioned “COVID Party!”

Moments later, we get a response. For now, let’s call him Neal. He said,

“My friends, I truly hope you are doing well. By the look of it, it seems as if you all are; for that, I am glad. However, you must appreciate that we are the privileged few to have the resources we have at our disposal. Millions, in our country and around the world, are dying of this virus. There are elderly vulnerable people in our very building! For all we know, they might not be alive to see next month. And here you are making light of the situation.”

And so, we come to the moral of this little story: Neal was right, and wrong.

You see, he was correct in assessing the gravity of the situation our little planet finds itself in. But, he was incorrect in assessing our assessment of it.

Neal interpreted the light-hearted nature of the photo as ignorance. But the truth is, humor is the tool which we, humans, use to cope with the great deal of malevolence present all around us; not the means to make light of a dire situation.

“A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men,” said Roald Dahl.

Given the seemingly infinite amount of suffering on Earth, if humor didn’t exist, life would be an endless baton exchange between ignorance and sorrow. You do not want to live in this world.

By some miracle, our rendition of the human being was able to understand to a phenomenal degree, but this superpower is blind. It does not choose to understand only the positives of the world.

Therefore, to be happy, one must be so despite knowing the realities of the world. Or live in ignorance — this, I don’t advise; It will inevitably come back to haunt you sooner or later.

The Happy man is aware, but not obsessive. The Happy man is proactive, but grounded in probability. The Happy man avoids ubiquitous negativity, but is not ignorant. The Happy man strives to live a fulfilled life, not a pleasurable one. But most of all, the Happy man requires a sense of humor.