I was once approached by a friend in need with the question, ''How will I ever be truly happy?''
To which I responded, ''Ha! You fool! You will never be truly happy! Happiness is an illusion and it is the very pursuit of this mislead ideal that has brought you to this tragic point in your tiny meaningless little life.''
Rather than plunging to his death from Storm’s River Bridge on whose edge he stood at the time, he turned to me, eyes full of earthly worry and existential angst, ''Do you really mean that?'' he asked.
''Of course!'' I said, I was growing tired of his constant fashionable soul-searching and was rather hoping he would end his whingeing permanently and simultaneously leave me with his share of the Black Label quarts we had in the back of his over-compensatingly masculine bakkie. Blast the consequences, I'd deal with the questioning later.
''Look at you, you pathetic drunk!'' I said, ''You're exactly what they want you to be! The corporations who run this planet want you to be the way you are so that they can fill up your empty little heart with all their useless toys and furnishings and take your money! Even the beer you've been drinking this whole time, 'more reward at the end of the day' Pah! They're playing on your need for fulfilment after taking your soul from you day by day of futile nine-to-five drudgery! You’re practically dead already. Jump, so I can have your beer!”
I confess: I am not a friendly drunk.
“But what’s the point of living if I’ll never be happy?” he asked me, sniffing up gloops of snot that were running down his face alongside streaks of dirty tears.
“There’s something wrong with your brain, man! For goodness sake! Have you not read Frankl’s book on Man’s Search for Meaning? You’re not supposed to be happy! You’re supposed to suffer and be filled with self-importance for your suffering! That’s what keeps people living, not your butterfly and rainbows idea of happiness.”
“You’re not very good at this consoling thing are you?” he asked me. I cracked open another quart and took my cell-phone from the pocket of my jeans. “What are you doing? You’re not going to call my mom and get her to try and talk me out of this are you?”
“No, you idiot! I’m going to make sure I get all this recorded on video! If you’re going to cop out, you can at least make me some money in the process. I’ll put it up on youtube. You’ll go viral! I’m telling you, man, you’re gonna rack up a million hits in a week. Man plunges to death in South Africa. That’s a winning title right there!” I pushed the capture video button. “Hey! Something just occurred to me, maybe this is the meaning of your life! This is what you need, bru! You don’t need happiness, you need meaning and this is it: To make me rich!”
“Forget it, dude! I’m not making you any money, you cruel bastard!” at which point he stepped away from the edge and snatched my beer away from me. Alright, his beer, technically speaking. “I’m taking you in for counselling on suspicion that you may be a psychopath!”
“I’m not the one who needs counselling,” I said, “You are!” But there is no point arguing with a man this far gone. “You drive!” I said, tossing him the keys, “I’ve had too much beer.”
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