A couple years ago somebody told me something that, thinking back upon, was of rather immense value. This person told me something that, at the time, I wasn’t of the experience to fully understand, but that, now, being two years more experienced and having had to confront reality a bit more directly, makes a brilliant amount of sense. What this person told me was an allusion in a critique of one of the only pieces of prose that I ever brought myself to write. The piece was the very beginning pages of a tentative story that I was working on, the plot of which centered around a man who was genuinely interested in an Australian girl who he had met over the internet and that man’s experience travelling overseas to meet his potential lover for the first time. The man in question was depicted as a particularly enthusiastic, resplendent, ambitious character, who appeared to genuinely relish and bask in the possibilities that life on earth had to offer. Despite several of his friends and family members being skeptical about his sudden internet relationship’s validity, this man felt certain that he was indeed headed to meet the girl of his dreams, easily dismissing his friends’ and his family’s admonishments as pessimistic. This man I had created was essentially a depiction of what we generally believe to be the ideal state of mind. So, in response to this man, what this person told me two years ago that makes so much sense through hindsight was that it was so very refreshing to see somebody write characters with such optimistic and sunny mindsets. At the time, I agreed with the critic, but it didn’t strike me as nearly as profound a truth as it does now. Having truly been to the depths of personal states over the past two years, and having realized just how many people occupy those depths, it’s now crystal-clear how rare that kind of vigorous mindset actually is. Such a precarious balance one must maintain in order occupy that sort of youthful state of mind. That state of mind is one which the kingpin of is the individual’s inexperience of particular stressful, pressurized, and sometimes despairing situations and truths. That said, anything that has the ability to place the youthful character into any of those negative situations or to bring them to realize any of those negative truths is a hazard; in other words, hazards abound for the individual in the ideal state of mind. In order to avoid falling out of the balance that makes for that pure sense of optimism, the individual would need to possess a lofty variety of skills and tendencies. Clearly they would need to be well-informed of potential deterrents, so ‘knowledgable’ and ‘prudent’ would certainly be requisite traits for the preservation of youth. The person would need to also have an incredibly strong will in order to evade the pressures presented by the various hazards and maintain focus on positive things. And besides all of the virtues that they would need to possess, the person would simply need a whole lot of luck on their side. I would argue that remaining in that mindset would be like the equivalent of winning the lottery in terms of probability. As soon as their balance that they had held is thrown off by negative truths, entire new sections of context are lain out onto their consciousness. They simply cannot experience life the same as they did when they were ignorant to the darker things, for the context in which their consciousness operates is tainted. So few hold that ignorant, blindly enthusiastic state of mind even into adolescence I would imagine; only the very few who are so fortunately endowed and raised. Little do those few persons know, but they are, at all times, surrounded by people who basically aren’t capable of inhabiting the mindset that they do. That person isn’t aware that he is walking a thin, thin line, and that any disturbance could be the one to throw him right off and into the land of.. well.. everything lesser. A land where—if he had opened his eyes to these things he would have noticed—the collected personal expression is comprised majorly of bluesy sentiments and depictions of human struggle. This kind of person is—and I believe I actually referred to the enthusiastic character in the story as this—a rare colorful pigment in a big bowl of grayscale. How incredibly unfortunate it is that, by the very properties of the youthful mindset, one must be so very susceptible to lesser mindsets. I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard of a man who consistently maintained utter ambition, enthusiasm, and youthful vigor for the entirety of, or even the vast majority of, his life. That would be a person who essentially never grew up; they never faltered in mind, they didn’t dim any notable amount. So I guess the ultimate answer to that question, “how do you achieve happiness?,” would be as simple as avoiding anything that can displace the balance of your youthful state of mind. And on a related thought, that said, I suppose that, if you desire to be happy, it would make a whole lot of sense to stick firmly to the advice provided in the foremost biblical texts. Hah. So funny it is just how true that proverbial phrase is that we’ve all heard too many times: “ignorance is bliss.” But, I do feel the need to add that the answer to the question “how do we achieve wisdom and personal fulfillment?” would be slightly different. I do think that, though ignorance is bliss, it is still, at least to an extent, exactly that: ignorance. A complete intellect I do not think could be possible without being the logical conclusions derived from analyzing all of the information available to us. The good, the bad, and yes, the ugly. And, you know, I suppose it’s then true that, for the person who once occupied that youthful vitality with immense potential and promise—one of the few who possess the will necessary to effectively wade through the bad and the ugly, overcome those things, and think clearly about them in hindsight—the negative thoughts that they’re now irrevocable realists, or that perhaps they’re irrevocably more melancholic, really shouldn’t be too much a source of regret for them after all. On the whole, that person is closer to the man that he wishes to be than before; they’re a more complete mind, and their productions are closer to the ultimate truths. I suppose a fully experienced mind, a genuinely wise mind, is somewhere in that ‘bowl of grayscale’. The wise individual had to mix their light with the dark in order to achieve that state.