Many years ago, when I read Anna Karenina, I was struck by the profound message in the simple opening sentence: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
I hadn't quite graduated from my teenage years when I read that Tolstoy masterpiece. My mental maturity was nowhere near the levels required to understand that complex narrative of humans and their emotions. But, I read that book, nonetheless, primarily because the opening sentence was such a hook.
Since then, as I lived and experienced life, the more I have come to appreciate the idea that unhappiness comes in many forms.
I have even reached a state where I now question the very idea of the existence of happy families.
It is not that happy families do not experience unhappiness--they do. Happy families are those that are able to be happy despite their own versions of unhappiness.
This understanding of life was further reinforced at the high school reunion.
Over the thirty years, we transitioned from the families into which we were born, to creating our own families. From the few conversations that I had where were went beyond the "hi" and jokes and onto more serious topics, the more it seemed that happiness comes despite all the unhappiness.
In fact, I am now more inclined to believe that happiness comes through unhappiness.
Tolstoy's Anna saw and felt way too much unhappiness. Could she have created happiness out of all that? I think so. Perhaps a high school reunion would have given her a better perspective on the world, and her own life? Her life wouldn't have ended horribly then.