Does the one who strives for happiness as a goal ever escape the bonds of contented misery? It is the ecstasy of a moment’s glimpse, and then the feeling is gone; for, such is the fleeting nature of a sensation, and more of an encumbrance than a plateau of embraced attainment. Can happiness be gauged, like a heart monitor, taking one’s blood pressure, or in that millisecond of pain in determining the glucose level through the pinprick of time?
Once, in generations past, when neighbors asked of one another the state of affairs, the politics of an era, and listened by that long-lost tradition of taking one’s hat off, lazily fanning one’s self in the sweaty afternoon of the blazing sun, people used to actually pause during the day without a watch or cellphone to check and recheck; and conversations took the meandering deliberation of voices undulating without the tense pressure of time, money and restrictive covenants imposed by society’s need to compel movement.
Happiness was not the goal, but the byproduct of social interaction. Misery was reduced to the loss of purpose, violation of normative values and now, in modernity, replaced with contented misery. No, it is not an oxymoron, for it is a state of Being accepted by most and recognized by few, and the duality of a seemingly conceptual friction is merely on its surface; for, such an accepted state of being exists precisely because we seek that which can never be attained but for a fleeting moment, like trying to grasp, catch and hang on to the flowing robe of an angel as that heavenly being floats by with a sprinkling of residues depicting the regrets of our lives.
We become contented with our own miseries, because we seek to attain a state of Being which can never be the essence of life, but merely the flux of sensations resulting from man’s worthy journey akin to a teleological embrace. Worth is tied intricately and inextricably with projects; and though Heidegger’s quip that such human work and activity is merely to avoid the inevitable encounter with Nothingness, it is nevertheless driven by a need to advance, a value in accomplishment, and a sense of creativity in the process of what we do, how we achieve it, and where we are going in life.
Contented misery is to exchange all of that for a moment of sensation, extrapolated to an unattainable and unreachable state of Being, and that is why misery prevails within a plateau of accepted contentment.
Such is the state of Being for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the health condition prevents the Federal and Postal employee from performing the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset. For, think for a moment – one’s career and mission in life is perhaps interrupted and impeded, and the Federal or Postal employee must consider alternatives, such as preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.
But if a sensation is all that is sought, as opposed to considering the next steps into the future – such as an alternative vocation in the private sector after obtaining a successful approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management – then contented misery will have won. On the other hand, if a Federal Disability Retirement annuity is successfully obtained, there is a chance that the future may hold further opportunities, and the restrictions of a contented misery may be replaced with that which Man was compelled to engage: a project or activity beyond the sphere of mere sensations.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire