What Makes You Happy?March 24, 2016

You studied "The Razor's Edge" a few weeks ago. It was about a young man's pursuit of happiness, where he traveled three continents (or several countries) before he found his true calling.

M. Somerset Maugham's novel was published in 1944, but the events took place after the Great War. The world wasn't the same anymore. Larry Darnell, a native of Chicago, had a promising life ahead of him. But the war prompted him to find out what was troubling him. Your coursemate quipped that Maugham's tale saw snobs and working class men meeting in one room. It could happen anywhere, anytime, but the Englishman would allude to the time when Eastern philosophy appealed to Westerners. It reminded him of his holiday in Indochina two summers ago, a life changing experience. You almost snorted. (You envy your coursemate's travel experience, but you think he's pretentious in this regard. Besides, he didn't tell you about his happenings in Sihanoukville. And you doubted that he encountered Buddhist monks in that place.) So how did Maugham's book affected you?

It was Sunday afternoon. You were exhausted. You beat the deadline last night, you took an examination a few days ago. And you don't want to think about the assignment. (The deadline will be on Wednesday.) You were the young man in Maugham's book, torn from conflicting feelings about the term. What would make you happy? Then and there, you figured out the following:

More hours of sleep. Your housemate bragged about his expertise in procrastination, even pointing out that he has yet to miss a deadline. You thought it was an exaggeration. Then again, you might not have given him credit. He was lucky that he wasn't a student of the English Department; your first year would be over soon, but you weren't rejoining. The most challenging part of the term is yet to come. You became irritable and forgetful from a few hours of sleep, and you promised to remain in bed.

More beer. It doesn't mean you yearn for solitude. You enjoy your conversation with your housemates, with cans of beer in front of you. The last gathering was memorable, as you talked about volunteering in another country. You haven't been far away, but you were curious about getting out of your comfort zone. But nothing is written on stone. Yet. And you might talk about the Marvel Cinematic Universe on your next meeting.

More money. You wouldn't risk being a working student. Not that you were lazy, but you still have a long way to go before you can be good in time management. Your tutor would keep on telling you to be patient, but it won't be one of your virtues. And keeping an eye on your spending habits could be tiresome. This may not be the scenario next term.

You remembered Reading Week, which would begin the week after next. You looked at a pile of books on your table, which gave you relief. You don't have to procrastinate on this one.

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