Define Your Own Happiness

By: Diana Romanova

Happiness. What is it for you? Some people find their happiness in family, some of them become happy working hard to succeed in career, sports, travelling, this list can go on and on. However, the answer to this question always starts with words “It depends…”. It depends on different people, their desire, story of their life. How hard is it sometimes to find happiness?People do really strange things, jump from the highest mountains, go to unknown dangerous places to get adrenalin, fall in love with people to get that feeling, that only thing what we are living for. Generally speaking, happiness is a good feeling but what it takes to become happy, what the person should go through in his life to reach happiness, might be killing inside. It depends… I would like to tell you the story of my life and let you decide what happinessis.My name is Julie Stevenson,and this is my story.

This day finally began. I can’t believe this, I am actually sittingon the airplane going to make my dream come true, I am doing this. It took so many nights crying, praying, wishing to start something new, to begin a wonderful life in a new place with new people, far away of all the problems, leaving them behind there, in my past life. I am not running away from my life and problems… No, I do. I do running away from my problems because I need a new chance to go back to the start, I think, I deserve it. I worked so hard to make everything work this time, but nothing helped, I need to start all over again. So, what I was talking about…Oh yes, I am sitting on the airplane from France to Los Angeles and in aminute, I will be in the sky. There are not much people here actually, only few people registered for this flight, it is going to be a long way, we had to make several stops before reaching our destination. There is a woman: blond hair, modest make-up, red colored nails are perfect, looks like she takes care of herself. She is wearing white blouse, black jacket, black trousers and heels, I would make a guess that she is a businesswoman in her 30s, she looks very young. There is a boy sitting next to her, wearing jeans, T-shirt and sports shoes, he looks very serious that I would give him 15 years old but no, maybe 10-12, he seems to be older than he is. He is playing his phone and not paying attention to what his mother is telling him.

Ben, can you please fasten your seatbelt, you need to obey all the rules, just in case of something happens. Just distract yourself from the phone and fasten your seatbelt. – The business woman sounded so begging, it is obvious that her son doesn’t want to listen to her.

What if I don’t fasten that stupid seatbelt? Would it help me to escape from the plane crush? How would that help me? – The boy was getting annoyed by his mother’s voice.

It will help you not to get hurt when the airplane will start falling. And what are you talking about? Don’t say such things, everything will be fine. – The mother didn’t like those questions.

If everything will be fine, I don’t need a seatbelt then, - the boy didn’t even put his phone aside, his eyes were all up on his toy.

The businesswoman started to explain the safety rules and I didn’t want to hear them arguing, I just started to observe other passengers. There was a man who attracted my attention, he was sitting alone, looking for stewardess to come to him. A big man with a big belly was wearing a suit, looks like he was going to the interview, but that was just a mask. His eyes were empty, I couldn’t find anything there, probably he is suffering from something and tries not to show his real feelings and thoughts. He has a black hair, brown eyes, a bristle, looks like he forgot to shave or was too lazy to do it. His suit and his brand-new shoes didn’t suit him at all, they don’t match with his personality. Everybody is calling me a psychologist because I need just a second to look at a person to scan him and analyze why he is acting this way not another and why he looks like this. I love doing this and once I was pretty sure I would become a psychologist, but I chose medicine instead of this, and now I am going to Los Angeles to the best doctor in neurosurgery, Katrin McGonagall. She is the best and I am planning to undergo the medical residency with her. Sometimes psychology helps me in my work, to identify the person, his characteristics and diagnoses faster than any other intern. That is why I train the brain all the time trying to scan other people and when I see that man with the big belly, I can definitely say he is dangerous, he is suffering from something and when the person is in the same situation as him, nobody knows what to expect. The next passenger is Mike. Oh my God! What is he doing here? That person was the intern like me in France and I told him about my decision to go to LA, he didn’t even blink an eye and now he is sitting on the same plane. I have to talk to him.

Hey, Mike. What are you doing here? – I tried to sound kind and polite but couldn’t hide a surprise notes in my voice.

Oh, Julie, I didn’t know that you are flying tonight. I was going to tell you but…I am sorry, I saw the opportunity and took it. I didn’t want to stay there anymore. You know how all of them are looking at me now, I just can’t be in that hospital and when you told me about H.O.P.E. Memorial, I just thought it could be a chance to start all over again. – He sounded so serious, he wasn’t even sorry about trying to steal my place in the hospital. 

You know that they might not except me because of another candidate, because of you, it will be a competition. – I was trying to figure out if he understands what he is doing.

Yes, and I am deeply sorry. Jules, I didn’t want that happen and maybe we can work together there. Jules, try to understand me as well. – His voice was full of hope that I will understand him, but I won’t.

I don’t understand how that could happen. I was so happy a second ago knowing that I will escape from that place, start something new, and now he appeared on my way, all of a sudden. Mike is my friend, we met in college and became really close working in hospital as interns.  He helped me a lot and he is a smart guy, but his biggest weakness is arrogance. He thinks that he can do everything and that helped to save some lives in the previous hospital until that one accident.

Interns don’t sleep at all, we have to work 24 hours, 7 days per week and never get tired, we feel adrenalin and energy when there is a patient that needs a surgery and we want to participate in this. One day we got a patient with nonresectable tumor in her head, all interns worked very hard to find the way to extract that thing out of woman’s head. Mike found that way and he wanted to assist during the surgery as it was his brilliant idea, but it was too dangerous that no surgeon wanted to take the responsibility for woman’s life. They wanted to give her time to live and spend her last days happily, the way she wanted. However, the patient wanted that surgery and Mike, unfortunately, wanted to be a hero and prove everybody that he is worth his job and can do anything, as he can be a great surgeon. I don’t know how he deceived everybody, but he could get a place to make a surgery on his own and that was a mistake. He did everything right at first, as people say, and he claims as well, but later on some problems occurred that the patient lost a lot of blood and died while he was standing and doing nothing. He was scared and didn’t call any doctor, I can understand his feelings but don’t understand how he could do it, not telling anyone, that is the highest pick of arrogance. He is in a good relationship with the chef, actually, the chef of the hospital is his father, and he got only penalty for this, if it was another intern, he would have been fired immediately, but Mike continued working in the hospital.

Now he is doing the same, he doesn’t know how hard it is to struggle, work hard to get what you want because everything that he has in life belongs to his father, not him, and now he thinks that he can steal my place in H.O.P.E. Memorial. How does he dare? I am so pissed off right now, I don’t even want to look around and observe other passengers, I can’t scan their appearance, anger is now controlling my body, but I need to calm down. I have to sleep, that is the best cure for me; always when I get angry with something, I wait till I go back to sleep and start a new day with a smile. Sometimes it doesn’t help, but I have to fly for several hours and I need some sleep, or I will be tired when I arrive to LA. My eyes followed the stewardess, she was carrying drinks and brought one to that man with the belly, his eyes were hungry when he saw whisky, I new there is a problem, he is an alcoholic, that describes his appearance. Businesswoman – mother started to read a book and her son kept playing his phone, there was a grandmother who was trying to call stewardess, but it was hopeless. I closed my eyes and tried to fall asleep, not thinking about Mike and my previous life memories that he brought with him on this plane, just trying to relax and the new day will start as soon as I open my eyes.

I have just begun fallen into sleep when I realized that my legs are trembling, hands are squeezing the armchair and the whole body is not able to listen to me, as it started to shake. I opened my eyes and saw the awful picture, the plane got into turbulence zone, but it didn’t scare me at all, as it often happens, nothing new. The worst thing that captured my eyes was the face of the stewardess, she was coming back from the business class and her only desire was to go back to the seat; her face, I will never forget it, the worst picture in my life just imprinted in my head, that was a face of true fear. The whole economy class, where I was sitting, began to panic and look around, like they are trying to find some safety, but there is nothing they can do. It was hopeless. Have you ever seen the real face of fear? Everybody from the young boy to the old lady sitting in the corner were scared to death. The stewardess came back to her seat and announced: “Dear passengers, please sit down and fasten your seat belts, we are in a zone of turbulence, please do not worry!”. I will never forget that voice as well, she didn’t seem like everything is going to be okay and didn’t seem like we all have no reason to worry about.

The airplane began to shake, and I squeezed the armchair as much as it could be possible, I didn’t know what to do. Should I start panicking or just sit here and wait for right moment to die? That situation seemed weird to me, it was not just a zone of turbulence, no idea how I knew that, but I did, I was sure. I didn’t hear a thing happening around me and looked around. I was not sure what the boy was doing, but I bet he was not playing his phone, his mother stopped reading her book at that moment, and the belly man… I hope, he didn’t think about the drink, it should be the last thing to think about, even though you are an alcoholic. I was worrying about granny sitting at the back, she might have a heart attack, she is in such an age that everything can scare her easily and Mike. Oh my God, now I am thinking that it is all happening because of him, because I do believe in karma and it punishes him right here, right now. But why me? Why all other passengers? No, that cannot be true. I have to feel sympathy, but I can’t. I have a lot of thoughts in my head right now and have no power over them. Wait. What did my mother always say in trouble situations? “Everything happens for a reason” and “What happens in life, it is always for the best”. Okay, that doesn’t help right now. How the airplane crush can be for the best? I don’t want to die, I just wanted to start my new life, to become happy again. I just wanted to be happy, that is all I asked for.

While all those strange ideas were running in my head, the situation became worse. The tale of an airplane tore apart, and it started to burn out. We were sitting in that tale ofthe economy class and, for God’s sake, I always heard that it is safer to sit at the end but, I guess, that nothing can save you from catastrophe. I don’t know what happened next, maybe it was too hard for my brain to picture everything, or maybe I was so scared that my body decided it is enough for me, but I blacked out. The first thing I remember is the sky, blue beautiful sky over my head, I was looking at it for so long and then I suddenly came back to reality. I started to hear voices, it was not just normal talking, it was screaming, like somebody is doing surgery without anesthesia. I looked around and saw Mike on the ground, and the stewardess not far away from him. I didn’t know where to run first, he was and still is my friend and he is screaming and crying so hard. There was a stewardess on the other side, she was under the tail of the plane, somehow, while we were fallen, it covered her body and squished her to the ground, she couldn’t move but she was silent, I saw her body shivering, and her eyes full of tears. I ran to her, well, I thought I go fast but in reality, I found out that I am limping and move like a turtle, I didn’t feel pain or anything, maybe it is because of shock. When I reached the stewardess, I asked if she can talk and she just looked at me. Her face was so peaceful, and her eyes were full of tears, I saw pain in her eyes. She was trying to say something, but it was hard, she couldn’t say a word, her body hurt so much that she gave up trying. The only thing that distracted me was Mike’s voice.

Mike, calm down, - I didn’t talk for a long time and my voice was vulnerable and quiet. No wonder, he couldn’t hear me, - Mike, calm down! – This time was better, steady loud voice that I usually use for patients when they start panicking. He didn’t want to listen, he was scared, I totally understood but that woman, she needed peace, so no screaming, I wanted to let her go in peace. – Mike, shut up!!! – That was harsh, I seemed to be angry, but I wanted him to listen and that is it. I looked at the face of stewardess and she was thankful, her lips moved a little to make a sound, but she choked with her blood and made her last breath. I hold her hand, I wanted to cry but couldn’t, I understood that I felt sorry for her but couldn’t cry at all. I just closed her eyes and went to Mike. He was crying, making no sound, so scared, I never saw him like this before. There was no situation like this that made him so scared.

My hand, it is nagging, I…I can’t move it, it hurts, - he was trying to explain it to me while crying and gasping the air. It was bad, his arm dislocated, I knew that I could help him to put it back, I just took of my jacket, put it in his mouth and without a warning put his arm back. He screamed so much but I saw relief in his face and soon screaming ended. – Thank you. – He replied, grabbed a fresh air and closed his eyes.

Let’s go, - I didn’t understand what he was trying to do, it is not time for having rest, - We have to find others, they might need our help and luckily for them we are doctors, Mike, get up and let’s go! – I didn’t know what was happening to me, I sounded so strict and my voice was firm, I didn’t have worries and panic attacks. I didn’t know why but I was acting like a commander that needs to take care of everybody, of his soldiers that got into trouble.

We started moving and spent about half an hour hanging around the forest calling for somebody and hoping to get a reply. Finally, we found them. The boy saw us and lead us to the place where everybody was. Granny was sitting next to a woman, she is tougher than I thought, and the woman was laying on the ground, shivering and calling her son. The belly man was sitting next to a tree, not knowing what to do, he was crying. Men are weaker than I thought, the second man for today who is crying, and women have to keep silence and die. That is not fair, but I understand, everybody is scared and stressed out, not every day the airplane crush happens to you. The young boy ran to his mother and took her hand. Mike and I came to the businesswoman and I checked her pulse, it was beating slowly. She had an awful deep scar made by a plane on her stomach and she was bleeding. She could die after a while from loosing blood and we couldn’t do anything, just waited. I tied down her scar to prevent bleeding with the scarf that granny gave and sat next to her and the young boy. Ben was crying, he didn’t want to let his mother pass away, that was a terrible picture. They didn’t say a word to each other, it was all written on their faces, words of thanks, love, and trust. Granny started to cry as well, she was holding woman’s hand on the other side of Ben and stroking it to make the woman stay calm and understand that she was not alone.

We spent the whole day like that and suddenly fell asleep, I didn’t even notice how that happened. When I opened my eyes, I saw a dead woman’s body and a boy sitting next to it. Granny was hugging a boy and calming him down, Mike tried to make a fire with the belly man.

Jules, you woke up, that is good, help us to make a fire. We have to do something, so that helicopter or anyone will notice us. – Mike sounded enthusiastic, he had a hope, that we can survive this, but I lost it. There was no feeling of hope, commander suddenly disappeared, and I started to feel miserable, lonely and hoped for nothing. They successfully made a fire and we all sat around it to feel warmer. I was starving, I guess everybody did, we didn’t talk much, we were all deep in our thoughts. I was thinking about the situation all over again and couldn’t understand a thing. The stewardess died, maybe she was somebody’s mother or wife, she was a daughter and her family didn’t even think that this could happen. They don’t know where she is and what if they never find this out, they might have a false hope that she can come back home but she died in front of my eyes, her face was so peaceful. The young boy lost his mother. He probably regrets now that he didn’t listen to her in the airplane and would give anything to hear her voice again. Granny is a tough old lady, I didn’t know that she can survive all of this, and she just got couple of bruises and scars not dangerous for health. Life is a joke. Why young ladies die from the airplane crushes and the woman who is in her 80s can survive them?She could have had a heart attack or broke her leg but no, she is a strong old lady. The same is for the belly man, he is not injured at all. I have no idea how, but he is totally fine. The man who destroys himself everyday by drinking has already made a choice, he understands the consequences and is ready to die. How lucky he is to be alive after the plane crush. I can say the same about me and Mike, he got his arm broke, but is alive, and me, I have nothing at all, my leg hurts a little and I am limping but that is all. We are alive, two young women are dead, and we are alive. That is a miracle, I would say, but there is an irony here, some kind of life’s joke. That is not fair. Why those women had to die? Why do we have to live? What if nobody finds us and we will have to stuck here, in the forest, forever?

Another day passed by, and we still didn’t say a word to each other, it was a silent atmosphere for almost three days. I was laying on the ground, looking at the sky, the first thing I saw after the plane collapsed. I was recording the accident all over again in my head, I didn’t want to, but couldn’t control my thoughts, fear was stronger than any other emotion that time. After a while, I started to think about my previous life that I was planning to leave behind and forget. That was a wonderful life, I had everything I wanted already, but didn’t appreciate it. I had an amazing family, they loved me so much and they taught me how to love. They are my everything, I kept going, moving forward because of them, I felt protected when I knew that they are alive. I love them so much and no fight, that we had, no argument seems so important right now. I forgive them for everything. They hurt me a lot but that was what I needed, I had to learn how to live by my own, not to depend on anyone, kept smiling overcoming difficulties. They gave me love as well, nobody will ever love me the way my mother did. She is a wise woman, I always asked her for advice because I knew that she will help. Sometimes she let me do my own mistakes because I learned faster that way, other times she helped managing them. My father is an alcoholic, that is why I didn’t like that belly man, as he resembles him a lot. No matter what he did or will do in the future, I will love him, because there were times when I saw him in a different way and my childhood was full of happiness and laughter. He made me a strong girl not needing anyone, but he also gave me the power I never expected to have, the power of love, hope, trust. I have a little brother, he is almost the same age, as that young boy, Ben. He looks like me, my brother is doing the same things as I did before, the same smile, words, behavior, it is so funny to observe it. I will never love anyone the same way I love him, it is totally different love. Besides all of the above, I have my job in the prosperous hospital and was going to be interviewed by the best doctor in the world to work for her. I have friends that I didn’t appreciate. Mike is arrogant, but he was always there for me, helping when it was necessary and trying to cover all my mistakes. He is the best friend I ever wanted to have, and I never told him this. I shouldn’t have said those words on the plain and got angry with him. I want to work with him, I want to have somebody by my side in the unknown place and somebody to start everything in the new country. There is always a thing to appreciate, we just don’t usually see it.

“The plane is approaching landing. Everybody, please fasten your seat belts and put a seat in a vertical position”, - stewardess voice was in my head. I opened my eyes and couldn’t believe that, I was sitting on the plane. I looked around and there were all those people: boy playing the phone, his mother reading a book, Mike sleeping, granny staring in the window and the belly man sitting with his eyes closed. It was just a dream, an awful dream. That happens when you fall asleep with bad thoughts and not in the right mood. I was so relieved that it didn’t happen. We went out of the plane and waited for the other to come. I was scared this time because of that dream. What if this can actually happen? While I was thinking about the worst, the flight operations officer announced: “Due to the unpredictable weather in LA, the flight has been delayed. Please don’t worry, we will provide a hotel next to the airport and let you know when you can catch the next flight. Thank you for your patience.” That was a relief for me, however, everybody was disappointed, complained a lot about the company they choose to fly with, and I was just happy. Probably, that was not just a dream, it was a caution that we have to be careful and I know for sure that now I know what happiness is.

We packed our belongings and went to the direction of the hotel, I saw each face and smiled. I was so happy to see them alive and they kept complaining non-stop.  “Everything that happens is for the best”, now I understand it. The moment where I am now shows me that I reached it by myself, I did things that brought me right here, right in this moment and I shouldn’t regret a thing and run away from it. I love my life, I happy that I am alive, I have things to appreciate and be thankful for, I have my family, friends, job, and if something doesn’t work in life, it means that there is much better to wait for. We don’t need to focus on bad things in life, we have to live our lives to the fullest and enjoy every moment of it, accept and value every single detail, because it does matter. People do really strange things to feel happy, I just needed to survive in an airplane crush (which happened in my dream but still) to become a truly happy person, delighted with every slightest thing in my life. What are you doing to feel happy? What does it mean to you? Think about it carefully and do not let anything steal your smile.