April 29th, 2008

abstract butterfly

self-entertain


Flowers in a garden, originally uploaded by gurdonark.

I never have had a taste for cigarettes, alcohol, controlled substances or latte. I used to have quite a taste for chocolate, but I tempered my intake in light of its fat content. I am not particularly prone to the endorphin adrenaline rush of adventure. Like most people, my life involves a great deal more Walter Mitty than Amelia Earheart.

I am firmly in the camp of people who find immense comfort in a good book, a flowering garden, and a simple train ride.
I do not hunt for the local deer and doves, but enjoy seeing doves and house sparrows at the feeder in our backyard. I like a good walk on an easy trail. I am as transported by the sight of a 3,500 foot high mountain as if I had climbed a 10,000 foot high mountain. For that mattter, I'm transported by the rolling vistas of spreading prairie.

People speak of lost arts, and re-discovering ways to do things once common and now rare. I'm not an expert at any of those. Yet I find that a key lost art is the lost art of the ability to self-entertain: to find contentment in one's own company. I don't mean to "be an island", because the quote about how "no man is an island" is so pithy that it might as well be treated as true. I mean instead the ability for one to do or not do something, and still find life immensely entertaining.

There are a number of small-town virtues perhaps best left to small-town living. One small-town virtue, though, deserves export. In a small town, it is understood that in some ways "there is nothing to do". One must therefore learn to self-entertain. I am always amused by the perpetual truth of the young that "there is nothing to do in this town", ever since I heard one young fellow say this to another young fellow in the midst of a crowded mall in Los Angeles. in small towns, though, when there is indeed a smaller array of things to do, people find great comfort in doing things and enjoying them. The library is not taken for granted, but a lifeline. Appreciating nature and one's garden is another lifeline. Crafting is not a frivolous pursuit, but a necessity. Community activities and even sports are not a local affectation, but a local necessity.

I see it all as the abilty to self-entertain. If I could give people a gift, I think I'd give the gift to find contentment within oneself. It's as good as chocolate, and less fattening.

abstract butterfly

Personal imperfections

1. My instinctive reaction to silence is to assume that I have given smoldering offense. When I am right in this assumption, it reinforces a global mental rule, giving rise to imprecise analysis.
2. I often know the log in my eye that is preventing me from seeing things clearly, but I just get so used to the splintered astigmatism that I become comfortable with the view.
3. I tend to think of myself as a B class blitz chess player who inexplicably plays like a C class blitz chess player. After 7,000 games in the C class, it is time to accept that how I play is what gives me a 1400 rating rather than a 1600 rating.
4. If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, then I wonder what quirky limbo is surfaced with the seashells of half-formed daydreams.
5. When I browsed "the 50 worst rock and roll songs of all time" book, I found that I love many of them.
I took an un-natural pride in having a kind of personal "Manhattan" moment, wishing to tell the authors how I love all those songs. I want to write an essay about "Unforgettable Fire", defending it.
6. I love good conversation--and thus should reach out more to initiate it.
7. For a person whose professional success depends in part upon an ability to negotiate with tact,
my personal life can involve some tactless comments--especially on the internet.
8. A corollary to 7 is that I like brash, assertive people. Yet my skin is sometimes unduly thin. This may be relative, however--gradations of crocodile luggage.
9. I could write a biography with Edward Hopper super-realism called "Exquisite Details of Times I have made a Fool of Myself".
10. My delight is a kind of mental analytical organization, which is sadly accompanied by few inklings of any physical space organization.