January 2009

The people who act happiest and laugh the most in company are very often the loneliest people. This is a sign. It’s not that they are putting on a brave face, or pretending, it’s simple: lonely people are genuinely delighted to be with others.

People who aren’t lonely, who have plenty of friends, can be quite blasé about festive situations: it’s nothing special to them. For the lonely, it’s a time of great excitement. Into their dark world, a light has shone! They are filled with joy. But when the light is gone, you don’t see to what sadness they must return.

I didn’t know this when I was young. I had friend I loved who committed suicide, and I couldn’t understand it. She was always so happy when she was with us — the extended group of friends — her action was seemingly without reason.

But it’s the happy ones you have to watch out for: the more excessive the delight, the more you should care. It’s a sign.


Fly, envious Time, till thou run out thy race,
Call on the lazy leaden-stepping hours,
Whose speed is but the heavy Plummets’ pace;
And glut thyself with what thy womb devours,
Which is no more than what is false and vain,
And merely mortal dross;
So little is our loss,
So little is thy gain.

For when as each thing bad thou hast entomb’d,
And last of all, thy greedy self consum’d,
Then long Eternity shall greet our bliss
With an individual kiss;
And Joy shall overtake us as a flood,
When every thing that is sincerely good
And perfectly divine,
With Truth, and Peace, and Love shall ever shine.

About the supreme Throne
Of Him, t’whose happy-making sight alone,
When once our heav’nly-guided soul shall climb,
Then all this earthly grossness quit,
Attir’d with Stars, we shall for ever sit,
Triumphing over Death, and Chance, and thee O Time.

–John Milton