I grew up in a culture where people recited an unwritten mantra that sounded something like this, “I will be happy when I can… if I can…” This mentality, as you can already tell, comes with undercurrents of scarcity. You can see that, right? The future.Oh, the anticipation of that day! Oh, the happiness you’ll experience then! This is what emotion researchers call the hedonic treadmill. It’s something they say we do; working very hard to reach a goal that will result in happiness. Later.
I first glimpsed the girl as a small bundle wrapped in the sergeant’s cloak. “What do you have for me?” I asked. It was my turn to take the fourth watch, midnight to dawn; a quiet night, until now. Moonlight spilled through the doorway as the sergeant carried the bundle into the Infirmary and gently set the girl on the wooden examining table. “We’d crossed into Rahesh on a raid, Honored Healer,” the sergeant said. She’d pushed her helmet up on top of her head and unlaced her cuirass; the iron strips clinked. A runnel of sweat bisected the soot on her forehead. “We heard her crying. The bastards had tied her to an altar, and...” She looked away.