Why We Like Happy Endings

Because it’s easier to believe it when it’s not real.

Plain and simple. In our everyday lives, we choose to see the difficult, the challenge, the less-than-perfect, but we pick up a book and suspend disbelief for hours or days, savoring the delicious taste of what-if and maybe-it-can-work-out-after-all. Most happy endings in novel scenarios are far from what happens in reality – but we buy into them and ride their waves to the crests and falls and crests again because we want so desperately to believe that happy endings can happen.

Well here’s the snarky truth: they can.

See, the thing is that there is no inherent good or bad in the world; it’s all in how you look at things and that is a full-on choice. Yes, some of us have a harder time choosing the easy path, but really, life is not so difficult and stifling if you don’t want it to be.

I know. It’s easy to let go of our delusions – especially when we’ve carried them around so long, they’re like the soft fray of a well-loved teddy bear.

I lived for years in a dead-end marriage which was poorly-matched from the start. We both knew it and refused to see it. Instead, we chose to remain mired in disappointment and sadness.

Until one day, I decided to look down another path and let it go. The sweet air of freedom, the release of heavy, heavy bags. In a minute, it was over – and I could breathe.

When I realized it was THAT easy, that the choice was, indeed, mine, it changed everything.

Now, up-and-down days are just that: up-and-down. The sunrise is still minty sweet and silent, the sunset is still a painter’s palette of awe. Birds still skirt the sky and if you listen to the afternoon stillness, you can hear all sorts of fascinating creatures and lives unfolding.

For me, reading a good book is like going on vacation. It transports me to new landscapes, lets me have adventures I’ve never tried before. It is so damn sweet. And when I finish, it’s like the afterglow of sex. That’s the brilliance of a happy ending that every rational human wouldn’t buy into in real life. It’s an island in time, a glimpse of hope.

Sometimes, things happen where it seems there is absolutely no silver lining, no positive way to see it. That’s just our own human limitations. Because in the end, we know so little, we are afraid to trust the unanswered questions and believe that it is all good.

Go ahead. Imagine your own real-life happy ending. Bet it’s not so far from the truth.

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