Highlight – Happy Anyway

I would always hate it when a therapist would say to me, “You can choose the way you feel about that.” I’d think, no you can’t! After some time and a little more work, I have to begrudgingly admit you can try to choose how to feel, and sometimes it does work a little bit, even with something as overpowering as feelings.

I had to try really hard at this during our shelter in place order here in Chicago, when I did the inevitable deep cleaning of my two-bedroom apartment. I live alone now and things are pretty quiet with my feline roommates but before that I lived with a series of roommates and partners. This place has a ten-year history for me and it’s been filled with laughter, wine, kisses, break-ups, art, parties, secrets—so many memories. Emptying drawers and closets I found things like drawings and cards dating all the way back to 2012. It was an intensely emotional architectural dig, and overwhelming at times. Finally I resolved to try my hardest when I came across a memory to think that I was lucky to have experienced that memory or that connection in my life, even if it was no longer there. I tried to focus on how many risks I had taken, adventures I’d had, meaningful relationships in my life, instead of the loss and the sorrow of missing them. This didn’t always work, but it helped.

I mention this autobiographical account because I feel that’s exactly what the lead actress in the short film Happy Anyway does. She’s a young illustrator who has experienced a loss, one more profound than any of mine, and it jerks her awake at night, disrupts her daily routine, and blocks her creativity. It’s a quiet, subtle film, both in the depiction of the young woman’s depression, which is reflected in ways like eating a granola bar for breakfast after spilling her cereal, and also through her half-smile in the end. She starts to work through her creative block and her depression by drawing happy memories of the partner she lost. She’s trying to choose how to feel about her loss, or maybe even just to allow herself to feel it, which entails feeling some of those happy memories and appreciating them. And it seems to kind of be working.

One thought on “Highlight – Happy Anyway

  1. I loved reading about your “deep clean” of your apartment (go, you good thing!) and about your memories of people, places and experiences ✨️ they’re what matters most in the end. Big hug 🫂


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