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© Joseph Tame 2000~2009

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Happiness is a packet of
chocolate-chip cookies

An expression of how I am feeling

Although this was written in 2001 when I was working as a waiter in Switzerland,
it remains true and valid to this day.

Never before in my life have I felt so happy for so long.

As far back as I can remember I have felt that my goal in life is to be happy. I recall that as a teenager I felt that happiness was gained through success. Success was often represented by money;
therefore money = happiness.

If you achieved happiness then you had reached that goal that oh so few do, you were one of the elite. Happiness was placed upon a pedestal in my mind, meaning that it was as obtainable as a career in Hollywood. 

Why was it so out of reach? Maybe because I felt that it would only ever come about if I owned certain belongings - perhaps at one point I would have said,

"Happiness? Happiness will come the day I have enough money for everything I could possible want. A nice little helicopter, a house with a view of dramatic mountains and a beautifully clean sea - all these things will be necessary. Also, a private beach for a front garden, a 30-inch television with Surround Sound, a brand new porsche and 4x4 off-roader, several exotic holidays a year, lots of chocolate cookies in the cupboard, and some great little electronic gadgets around the house, such as Aibo, that robotic dog made by Sony."

Well, with the exception of the chocolate-chip cookies I have found perfect happiness with the aid of none of these things.

I currently have absolutely no money and the closest I've got to owning an Aibo was when I once saw one in a shop window. Sure, I regularly have encounters with helicopters but that's mostly when I'm half asleep and wishing they weren't hovering outside my window at 7am. Switzerland is a little lacking in ocean shores due to it's land-locked nature, although there is a gravel terrace outside my hotel which can resemble a very stony beach if you down a crate of the local beer beforehand.

I appreciate that my environment here does much for my mood - I can't help but smile when I wake up to see the sun on the snow-capped mountains. Only yesterday I was out on my mountain bike (the first time I've ever used one to climb a mountain!) exploring the new landscape that has emerged from under the metres of snow. New life is visible everywhere. Frogspawn fills the ponds, thousands of crocuses paint the slopes in shades of cream and purple and the local marmots do their best to frighten you by screeching from their burrows like some unearthly creatures. 

However, the single most important factor that is contributing to my happiness has to be my friends. The support and love given to me by them over the past year has been overwhelming. Only one of them remains here at Scheidegg, yet this is no issue. These people live not only in the UK, but also in places as far away as Australia, Japan, North America, Mexico, Hawaii, and Singapore. The distance between us makes no difference - we just have to shout louder.

The final contribution to the mix that makes me smile is a purely personal one. Through my limited travels I have discovered within myself the strength and belief that to a great extent I can do what I wish and go wherever I desire. Of course there are limitations to this, I mean I'll have to practise holding my breath for a fair bit longer before my next attempt to dive to the bottom of the Atlantic. I have finally realised that money is not a necessity in order to be happy - sure, it can help, but the most challenging and rewarding times I have experienced have been when I've been totally broke - never again will I give up quality of life in the pursuit of money as I did back in the UK.

I would use that corny line and say that through travel, and living in such an isolated spot in the Alps I have "found myself". However, I remember thinking the very same thing four years ago having completed my first season here. I now appreciate that it is a continuous process, a never-ending journey in a way - but I do feel that I have reached a significant point. I can confidently say that I am very, very happy with my life. I no longer feel the ties of society that the vast majority of us (I think!) are bound by, whether we know it or not.

Essentially, I have found my freedom, and I thank everyone who has played a part in enabling me to do so.

Right, I must get off this mountain and down to a shop - my supply of Organic Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies is getting dangerously low!- (some things in life will never change).

Although this piece was written in the summer of 2001, it remains current and valid to this day.

For my thoughts on "The Rat Race", click here

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