Eudaimonia: the sense of harmony with self and with others that arises naturally out of virtuous activity in the soul. A Beginner’s Guide to Philosophy By Dominique Janicaud.
In prepping for my philosophy class, while sipping the last bit of whatever black tea was in a random bag on my shelf, I came upon “eudaimonia”. What a nice thought; that if we’re virtuous, we will achieve happiness in the world as a side effect. But how to be virtuous? Let’s pick any religion, philosopher, or self-help book and find out, eh?
(My son, sitting next to me, agrees that the tea is good. Too bad we don’t know what it is. It has jasmine flowers in it? He is reading a magazine and just told me that Apple’s iphone profits alone total more than all of Microsoft and Google’s for everything they offer. My son has decided that Apple should pay off our country’s debt.)
I know what the feeling of harmony is like; there have been a few times in my life where I have made the absolute correct decision, and the sense of “rightness” is so tangible, it’s akin to singing my part in a complex chord with a choir when we all get it. To be fully yourself, but part of a whole, everything so beautiful it lasts forever and only a moment.
Like when I became a mom. I was completely aimless before that, as most teenagers are (even when they think they know what they’re doing). Then I was pregnant, and suddenly had to make choices that mattered. And in the gravitas, I found I did know what the right choices were, and going on that path was the most difficult lines of music, but produced the most glorious harmony.
If only I could shake off the pressures of other people’s expectations for all the parts of my life, not just huge parenting ones. Everyone seems to have a different opinion on how to be a virtuous woman, wife, sister, friend, teacher, writer, etc. The melodies of my heart get tangled in the background noise, until I can’t figure out which is true.
(My son just sparked a conversation as the mystery tea runs out. We agree that Apple products are really well made. We have had Mac stuff for years, and barely any glitches, bugs, viruses, or crapping out on us. Sadly, the company itself makes their own products obsolete before their hardware ever slacks off. Why can’t the company make good products and be Good?)
Is eudaimonia a final goal with steps along the way? or a series of moments? or an impossible achievement? Maybe I’ll challenge my students to come up with ways to get there. And then we’ll send the list to Apple.
Move with intention.