Saturday, February 20, 2010

In which the relation of the story of an unexpected gift transforms into rumination on the nature of inspiration

An everyday miracle occurred yesterday, in the sense that it happened not as a result of divine intervention but was a product of real live human effort and love.

I came home to get a few things before Gumbo Night at Spangles's house, and there on the steps was a tantalizing book-shaped cardboard package from I always check the name on these packages left in the stairwell, even if I'm not expecting anything, because I'm a nosy neighbor. Inexplicably, it was for me! For me? My first thought was, great, I bet this is some sort of scam.

But when I brought it upstairs and opened it i found, much to my ferklempt-ting, that it was a brand new hardback copy of The Happiness Project, mentioned as an unaffordable luxury in an earlier post! Since this blog only has one reader at the moment, and I know who she is, I knew this surprise (but not surprising) expression of love came from The Twin. I will leave you to make your own connections as to the sterling character and generosity of heart of said individual, because in my opinion the internet isn't big enough to contain such a subject.

I have already begun to read it, and I'm two months in to her year-long project. (The author, Gretchen Rubin is speaking in Philadelphia in two weeks, too! Guess who will be there with her copy of the book!)

I will hold off on a full blown book review at this point, but preliminary findings suggest that, much to my relief, she has not written the be-all end-all book about happiness after which another one need never be written. There are things I disagree with, methods I question, ways that I would do it differently. My Happiness book remains to be written, my own tune still to be hammered out - as with all of ours as individuals. As she points out, each one of our lives, at least here in the Free World, can be their own Happiness Project.

One of the great things about wanting to create things and taking on enormous amorphous topics like Happiness, is that you never get it completely right. There is always more to be said, a different way to paint the picture that would be more accurate, more beautiful, truer. This is mostly unacknowledged brilliance of the Great Hunger - it keeps you awake and on your toes, keeps you striving, keeps you moving toward the horizon, certain that the answer is just over that next ridge. It's great, because if you're moving you're not stuck, even if that movement comes with this unsettled feeling of incompleteness, of wanting more. I've felt stuck too before in life, and the hunger is by far the more lively option.

I remember when I took a ceramics class as a teenager, as I learned all the different techniques and types of clay and firing and glaze, feeling overwhelmed as I realized the infinite possibilities. You could stay in a clay studio for an entire lifetime and never try out all the different possibilities, never finish all the ideas. And that's great! That feeling that there are too many ideas rushing through your head - that's the feeling of inspiration. It can be anxiety producing if you try to cling to each one and hoard it like a gold bouillon piece. The other option is just to stand there in the middle of the shower and enjoy getting soaked, be thankful for the rain, catch a few drops in your mouth and let the rest roll off of you, trusting that the source and patterns and reasons for rain are far beyond your capacity for comprehension. I think the reason get passionate about anything is precisely this sense of infinite possibilities, the sense that no matter how deep you dig you'll never finish the hole, but there's great stuff down there all the same.

1 comment:

schoolmarmalade said...

Aw, shucks, twasn't anything, and I have already been recompensed many-fold in the currency of sweet sweet blog readin.