In your leisure time, when your imagination knocks on the doors of your realities, thinking through your life; humble beginnings, the uncertainties that cataloged your childhood. The ironies, perhaps the sloppy humor that comes within tragedies and comedies. The tidal-waves voyages you sailed through without navigation. There must be a penetrative scene, perhaps visceral in your story which might stand aloof. As if the world only understands the principles of the water cycle; it dances through the rhythms of overtly melting banalities of your ambitions, then with cruising gesture, evaporates to condense over the clouds of your dreams. But character is also like a determined amphibian; as outrageous as it plans on land would be, when caught and drawn in waters, it will still swim and run away.
Camilla Gibb, the author of This is Happy, had such a piecing life. It was a memoir that bears several incomplete riddles, with condescension which put readers asunder, as if gravity works in a horizontal direction. One can only dodge the bullets in her statements, but being stabbed to death in both thoughts and emotions would be a lifetime torture one will inescapably endure after routing through that tiny book with a candid title. It is a story built with hope in a hopeless plot. Written with courage and sober reflections, with a full grip on how the future would seem like for every man who will not only dwell in the haunts of the past but will also adjust every part of emotions just to set things right. It is so because Camilla, on several occasions in her life hadn’t been able to determine what her future will look like, even with fair and available resources.
She speaks about her father, over and over again; not only because of her biological bond but also with dramatic, sometimes scornful attachment to a man, so enigmatic and mysterious like the oracles of Sahara. The grief and pain in her journey, detached from her father’s mystique are roughly bonded with an upbringing he ridiculously envisioned for she and her siblings. “I never expected to be happy,” she wrote, “to have a sense of belonging somewhere”. It was a beginning, more close to an end than it can continue. Contemplating the possibility of happiness, even going further to question a sense of belonging is complete devastation of the soul. And many of us have had such a beginning; we imprisoned our souls before life brings us into contempt. And it is heartbreaking to conclude that few of us end up uplifting our souls, once more, gather reasons to be happy again, and conjure yet another sense of belonging.
Camilla’s life is one of the few stories that many can relate to. Her words started grieving even when she had not started writing. Too much sorrow in her statements with a paradox which she and the only few would say is happy. Living with a father who was “egomaniac” and a mother who always tried to “blanket her problems with silence”, one wouldn’t dare to imagine how complete happiness would seem like, and how touching it is to be loved by the very first people in your life. Camilla felt short of these natural sensations even in very little demand. At a point, she thought her fantasies of belonging might have turned into a practical sort of living after she enrolled at Oxford graduate school; but the more she fantasized, the more she felt less to herself.
Does it worth living, knowing that your existence meant nothing to anyone, even to yourself? What other sort of happiness could one get, if all her engagement in life, including her home couldn’t give tiny pixels of reasons to coherently feel happy? Does anyone who hadn’t had any sort of beliefs or moral assurance, perhaps a purpose in life ever hope for something at all? With this, Camilla, though meeting the “intellectual rigor” at Oxford, had to contemplate suicide. Her life is like the evolutionist theory of cosmos; a world coming out from nothing. No love, no happiness, no hope, no sense of belonging, no dignity, nothing! As a woman, she didn’t even feel the naturality to have conceived to bear children. One reason was, she wrote “the rupture of [her] own family [had] destroyed her confidence in the idea of motherhood”. Was there anything left for Camilla?
Opening her legs easily, thinking about suicide, being a prisoner for little affections, and ultimately, losing dignity and pride. This sort of life, in its full manifestation, shouldn’t be all about a book and it review. It must be rather a powerful reference story for both psychological and moral endurance, with an appraisal for a woman who has lived all her life battling life’s intimidations and anguish. Camilla’s pristine education had played an inferior role in her life. In all her life, life has been what she has been searching for. Because when she was born, life couldn’t find her. She had nobody to call her own, she never had a single human fully dedicated to her course. Her love life popped in bits, with viciously endangered endings. She had been crying for most of her entire life more than what any sympathizer could bear; bottomless depth of sorrow with too much pain being mounted on an unnurtured heart and a subtle soul.
The journey through the world outside her was somehow breathtaking. Somewhere in Kenya, Nairobi. Somewhere in Egypt, Cairo. Somewhere in Israel, Jerusalem all in the purpose of bugging some degrees which as of today still stays at the periphery margins of her horizon. Her monumental travel was somewhere in the Philippines, to a lady called Tita, who had been, not only her Nanny but also a gift for the egg; her baby. Yes, Camilla was able to find a rhythm to her life, a taste of happiness, dedication, love, and commitment; from an unlikely guest, specifically servant who had given all to Camilla and her daughter. Camilla’s partner had painfully and unexpectedly left her when she was pregnant. She had suffered a miscarriage that somehow, had wiped her hopes of conceiving again by half. Another pregnancy though with Camilla’s usual credo in life; crying, has been but a mystery.
Like volcanic furies, her heart burnt through her body, pulling every nerve towards rigorous pain, anguish, and sorrow. Her face had only one path through her cheeks; for tears. Ripped off from human sensibility, torn between hopelessness and suffering. Camilla would benefit from only one organ of her system; the uterus. Tita and her family eventually became part of Camilla’s life, with love and affection, happiness built from nowhere towards the likeness of a kind-hearted nanny was somehow a moving story. Destinies are like covalent bonds, the more it shares entities, the stronger the bond. Pride and dignity are sometimes not imbued; through goodwill and kindness, one could find an edge. You might be downhearted throughout in life, feeling no sense of belonging, hardly conjuring love even from those you love, continuous rejection, depression, traumas, and suicide mentality. Like Camilla, you’ve been at the mercies of psychotherapists and psychologists, swallowing all kinds of pills and tonics. You have engaged in random relationships with ungrateful, somehow hostile people, having random sex with all colors of people. Trying to call onto your personality, happiness, and dignity.
Camilla’s life is such a typical lesson for you. As she said “All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story or tell a story about them,’ Isak Dinesen once said. Sorrows are all pain otherwise, pain without sense or meaning. But joys, too, it seems to me, need their context. And sometimes their coexistence needs to be borne. The coexistence or possibility of the opposite can be what gives an experience its meaning. At its simplest, that is a story.” I don’t know how you’ll manipulate, endure and capitalize on your fortunes, but I hope one day, like Camilla, all will be happy.