Saturday, March 8, 2014

I am never unhappy while...

For personal reference, I am never unhappy while:

  • Hiking
  • Reading about theoretical physics
  • Writing a poem (but not necessarily reading poetry)
  • Cooking (but not necessarily eating)
  • Listening to (good) pop music
  • Playing Balderdash
  • Rewatching a favorite movie, the more times I've seen it the better

I think that's the end of the list. Not that other things don't make me happy, they just don't necessarily preclude unhappiness. The key seems to be distraction via a kind of passive, familiar involvement (a song or movie I know well, the rituals of preparing a meal, or the repetitive nature of hiking plus the added benefit of sidescrolling scenery) or intense engagement of the mind, as with physics (mathematically beyond my understanding, of course, but mindblowing anyway) or poetry (brief, elusive flow state). Distraction vs. concentration; one is not better, I need both, but it has to be truly engaging distraction.


  1. Have you tried drawing/painting, especially automatic? For me, that's unalloyed felicity. Usually I'm pretty happy schtupping around on guitar, especially while "rewatching a favorite movie," but I get frustrated with the limitations of my chops. Writing doesn't always make me happy. Sitting in a coffee shop and desultorily reading a stack of books and magazines, that makes me happier than writing does. Long scenic drives with good driving music on the speakers, that never fails to make me happy.

    1. Yes music often seems best when driving. I haven't really tried doing anything artistic in that way since I was a kid, no.

      I like the desultory reading stack too, though I usually do that at home with abundant "free" coffee or wine.

    2. Wine makes me happy--not just dinking it, but going to a wine shop and perusing the bottles and labels. And reading, for example, Jancis Robinson's wine reviews in The Financial Times, even when her oenology is leagues over my head.