Happiness–only known after trauma, or death?

A few weeks ago, I got an invitation from my friend and colleague Michael Timm to write an essay for Milwaukee Anthropologist, an online liberal arts magazine “for general audiences” that he edits and produces.This sixth issue tackles the question What is happiness and how do we get it?

I think most of you know the story of what happened to me. Mike eloquently summed it up in his introduction to this issue of the Milwaukee Anthropologist:

“When a drunk driver crashed into Jason Haas, the impact sent shattered glass into his eye, his brain into shock, and his life into pieces. Almost a decade later, he’s picked up those pieces and considers himself lucky to be alive—but he reminds us of the ancient wisdom of the Greek [wise man] Solon that perhaps one’s happiness should not be measured at all, if at all, until after one is dead and one’s legacy clear. When Haas woke up from a coma after six weeks lying in a hospital bed, he believed part of him had died. But the part that elected to seize life again has since earned a degree, participated in his community, and started a new home. Is he a happy man?”

Happiness–only known after trauma, or death? by Jason Haas

Mike speaks very well of me, and I thank him for that. And yeah, it’s a frigging miracle that I’m alive. I’m celebrating it right now by enjoying some red wine and Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Devils. It’s really nice to be here!


Author: Jason Haas

Jason is an elected member of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, occasionally moonlights as an amateur gardener, and is a proud father of two, or three, depending on how you do the math.