strictures and structures

if only we stopped trying to be happy, we could have a pretty good time

Month: January, 2012

on being lazy

This is one of my favorite quotes, courtesy of Edith Wharton:

“If only we’d stop trying to be happy we’d have a pretty good time.”

I think by most people’s standards, I’m actually pretty hard-working.
I have a fancy college degree, a nice programming job, and biking
across America under my belt. But I have no ambition to accrue lots of
wealth, or become a respected leader of a field, or to radically
innovate, or otherwise leave my mark. I don’t even want to travel to
gain new perspectives or become a true citizen of the globe or what
the hell ever. It all sounds so tiring and uncertain, and slavish to
other people’s notions of “good.” Too much trying to be somebody
impossible, rather than doing the things that are possible for me.

If you’ve ever read Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy,
you’ll recall that some of the characters have a supernatural animal
companion, called a daemon, that represents their soul’s true nature.
For example, people with bird daemons are free and independent, and
dog daemons signify a loyal and social personality. My daemon would
probably be a cow, ambling about and eating grass wherever he found
it. That cow is content.

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The Wombat

There once was a magnificent wombat,
Who was both fierce, and peerless in combat,
He dueled George Byron
With a sharp piece of iron,
But the wombat now lies in pace requiescat.

a resolution for the new year, and for all years

Go ahead and lie. Lie to your mother about when you’re going to visit.
Lie to your boss about how long this new project is going to take. Lie
with your purchases about how much you really have in your bank
account. Go ahead–lie to the whole damn world.

But leave one person out of those lies–yourself. Don’t believe your
own lies. If you aren’t visiting your mother because you hate her,
admit it to yourself–don’t blame it on being busy. If you told your
boss that report would take twice as long as it actually would, don’t
justify it by thinking of how you’ve been overworked recently. Just
admit it–you’re being vindictive. And when you’re blowing money on a
pricey vacation, face yourself in the mirror and say, “I’m doing it to
keep up with the Joneses, not because I’ve really dreamed of going to
Bali all my life.”

Never lie to yourself. The first cause and first solution to every
problem in your life is you. And if you never have the courage to
admit to yourself when you are lying, you’ll be getting in your own
way for the rest of your life.

And no matter how old you are, “the rest of your life” is a very long time.