It’s been my experience that you’ve got to have leisure to be unhappy. Half the troubles in this world are imaginary, and it takes time to think them up. But it’s these oftener than the real troubles that break a young husband’s back or a young wife’s heart.
A few men and more women can be happy idle when they’re single, but once you marry them to each other they’ve got to find work or they’ll find trouble. Everybody’s got to raise something in this world, and unless people raise a job, or crops, or children, they’ll raise Cain. You can ride three miles on the trolley car to the Stock Yards every morning and find happiness at the end of the trip, but you may chase it all over the world in a steam yacht without catching up with it. A woman can find fun from the basement to the nursery of her own house, but give her a license to gad the streets and a bunch of matinee tickets and shell find discontent. There’s always an idle woman or an idle man in every divorce case. When the man earns the bread in the sweat of his brow, it’s right that the woman should perspire a little baking it.
There are two kinds of discontent in this world—the discontent that works and the discontent that wrings its hands. The first gets what it wants, and the second loses what it has. There’s no cure for the first but success; and there’s no cure at all for the second, especially if a woman has it; for she doesn’t know what she wants, and so you can’t give it to her.
Happiness is like salvation—a state of grace that makes you enjoy the good things you’ve got and keep reaching out, for better ones in the hereafter. And home isn’t what’s around you, but what’s inside you.
I had a pretty good illustration of this whole thing some years ago when a foolish old uncle died and left my cellar boss, Mike Shaughnessy, a million dollars. I didn’t bother about it particularly, for he’d always been a pretty level-headed old Mick, and I supposed that he’d put the money in pickle and keep right along at his job. But one morning, when he came rooting and grunting into my office in a sort of casual way, trying to keep a plug hat from falling off the back of his head, I knew that he was going to fly the track. Started in to tell me that his extensive property interests demanded all his attention now, but I cut it short with:
“Mike, you’ve been a blamed good cellar boss, but you’re going to make a blamed bad millionaire. Think it over.”
Well, sir, I’m hanged if that fellow, whom I’d raised from the time he was old enough to poke a barrel along the runways with a pointed stick, didn’t blow a cloud of cigar smoke in my face to show that he was just as big as I was, and start tight in to regularly cuss me out. But he didn’t get very far. I simply looked at Mm, and said sudden, “Git, you Mick,” and he wilted back out of the office just as easy as if he hadn’t had ten cents.
I heard of him off and on for the next year, putting up a house on Michigan Avenue, buying hand-painted pictures by the square foot and paying for them by the square inch—for his wife had decided that they must occupy their proper station in society—and generally building up a mighty high rating as a good thing.