Friday, September 02, 2011


At the bar, after a lovely hour or so cavorting in a park perched high atop West Seattle’s south end, and following that thrilling downhill during which, for me, at least, all the green lights were made, the Angry Hippy and I were talking about Aristotle, specifically, the part in the Nichomachean Ethics where he wonders whether a person can be made unhappy after he is dead.

Consider a scenario in which a man dies having provided well for his family and leaving a fine reputation as a scholar and citizen; in short, having lived what we would judge to be a happy life. Then, however, through a series of misfortunes and happenstance, his legacy is completely lost; his heirs suffer deeply and his once-proud reputation is utterly tarnished; he comes to be seen as a charlatan and a fraud; in other words, the life that earlier seemed happy turns out to be something completely false and empty.

The question is: would we still say the man lived a happy life?

Aristotle’s conjecture is that we wouldn’t.

Happiness, for him, is a state that needs to persevere over time; his famous quote in that regard is: “One swallow does not a summer make, nor one fine day; similarly one day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy.”

It is with confidence, therefore, that I can assert how happy indeed is the Thursday night bike ride; half a decade of delightful adventures have rolled for me under its ever-turning two wheels.

Last night, I got to appear, a bit late, at yet another location in our fair city to which I’d never been, and come upon several dozen cyclist-shaped bodies back-lit against the Seattle skyline. Shades of E.T. being pedaled before the harvest moon.

Such events, each one unique, add up. No brief time of happiness; rather, a multitude.

How can this not, then, be a happy life?

Indeed, one to die for.


Post a Comment

<< Home