How to Leave the House of Unhappiness

How to Leave the House of Unhappiness

by Viola Allo

If you find yourself in the house of unhappiness, move carefully. Touch things but never take them. If you must use something, use it respectfully and as briefly as possible. Return the item in its original condition. Restore it to its exact place, on a table or shelf.

Be quiet. be still in the house of unhappiness. Draw no attention to yourself. The people there have restless gazes, eyes that Hit about—that see everything, all the time. They have their intent gazes too—the venomous kind that settle on one thing so fixedly as to puncture its solidity and liquefy its interior.

If you stay too long in such a house, these kinds of gazes will become your own, your eyes a pair of watchful weapons.

In the house of unhappiness, you will need good eyes in order to see. The walls hold awkward shapes and dark colors and Interrupt the movement of light. If you have ever walked into a tunnel or cave or the thickest of woods at dusk or simply stood in the night shadows beneath the end of a wide bridge, then you know the kind of reliable gloom that sits in the house of unhappiness.

The residents, too, are designed such that they absorb and hoard light rather than emit or reflect it. Cold to the couch, they hold little heat and radiate no warmth. Their sad souls sit like narrow wells in the ground, deeply dark. No matter the time of day or the position of the sun overhead, the pits of these hollow beings remain obscure and motionless. As with peering into a dark well, you feel the burn of tired eyes if you search the depths of these bottomless beings.

So spare yourself the effort. not cry to discern the moods and dispositions of the people who live in the house of unhappiness. Or you will be sucked into staying there. Like leaning over the edge of an open well and falling in or like trying to save a drowning man who outweighs you and cannot swim, you run the risk of becoming trapped—of losing yourself, your life—if you stay.

And it is all too easy to become trapped in that house. Because your stomach churns, your abdominal muscles tense, your chest locks, your lungs refuse to expand. And before you know it, you cannot breathe. Or move.

Waste no time trying to diagnose this paralysis. Do not rummage around for some corner of comfort in the house or in your mind. Know that, in the house of unhappiness, nothing belongs to you. Not even your deepest emotions.

It will be better for you if you shut your eyes. Close your mind. Lock the doors and windows to your own soul. Board-up the gate to your own joy. Nail it shut. Do what you must to protect yourself while you stand in the house of unhappiness. Then get out as fast as you can.

Do not be tempted to seek out some temporary relief. Do not be lured into cultivating a sense of belonging or of entitlement to kindness. As seductive a desire as it may be to find some way to feel at home in that house, know that you will never be welcomed and loved by the people there.

Walk out of such a house with your entire being. Move quickly but carefully. Do not make your departure look too hasty, but leave completely. Leave with all the cells of your being. Imagine doing so. And leave no part of you in that house, not even your dead skin cells or loose strands of hair. Do not leave your thoughts behind either. Sweep them up meticulously, as a thousand new-bristled brooms.

If all this seems hard to imagine or impossible to accomplish. then leave as if someone were screaming at you to leave. Leave as thoroughly as you would a beast you wish to forever pacify with your complete absence.

Let nothing of that house be somehow pinned to you, squeezed as particles into the grooves of the soles of your shoes. When you step outside, stamp your feet, then gather the dirt. Scoop it up into your hands. Tilt your head, open your mouth, and blow it all back into the house. Puff at the stubborn bits of dirt that sit on your fingertips or under the clear roofs of your fingernails.

Then, undress yourself. Toss away your clothes. Your shoes, too. Walk away. And find a fountain to bathe in. Stand naked in the sun. And take the light in.

You will gather an audience, of course. They will watch you gleaming in the sunlight. They will marvel at the sight of your clean, skin and say that you are mad. But you are happy and you can move. And you know what they do not know—that madness is what it takes to leave the house of unhappiness.

So picture yourself a whirlwind and move. Spin away and be free.

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