Sunday, May 26, 2013

I Never Discovered A Fact I Didn’t Love

"Thank you for repairing the chip in my funny bone." Kevin Smith recently received that compliment during the question/answer portion of his podcast. Nearly made me cry. To see that your art helped a humorless person laugh again? That's about as good as it gets. I met a woman like that a few weeks ago. Wouldn't know funny if it swallowed her whole. Even we whipped out our best material, still, crickets. So sad. I wonder if she has teeth.

"We have a wonderful floor for your great shoes." That's what the train conductor said to a disrespectful passenger who stretched his feet out on the seat. Classic. Here's why that moment made me happy. First, she was fundamentally affirmative. Second, she was completely friendly. Third, she was funny enough to diffuse the situation, but stern enough to show she meant business. You could build an entire course on customer service around that one sentence. Respect.

"Make art because when it’s in the world, the world feels better." Fame and fortune can go to hell. Expecting nothing beyond the satisfaction of creating something awesome is enough motivation for me. I think that's the problem with artists. They attach too much entitlement and expectation to their work. Instead of enjoying the adventure of the moment, falling in love with the process and soaking in the stillness of the experience, everything is vehicle. Another opportunity to be a mercenary, always trying to get somewhere, never trying to do something great, only hoping to exit. Wherever people are in the artistic food chain, there’s always somewhere else they need to get. The point is, we don’t always have to be digging for treasure. Sometimes digging is the treasure.

"I never discovered a fact I didn’t love." Even if it scares us. Even if it contradicts our beliefs. Even if it makes us rethink our opinion. Even if it's an inconvenient truth. Even if it's dangerous enough to change us. Even if it's inconsistent with the fairytales used to scare us into good behavior. If all humans reach this level of sheet mental flexibility, there's no problem we can't solve. Inspired by an interview with ecologist Edward Wilson.

"There's more to life than simple euphoria." Irrational exuberance isn't the only form of happiness worth having. Nothing against overwhelming joy, but sometimes when we say we're happy, what we really mean is, we're satisfied. When I drag my saggy bones out of yoga class at seven in the morning, sweat pouring out of me like a carwash, feeling pain in muscles I didn't know I had, happiness isn't the first word that comes to mind. But the satisfaction of doing something meaningful, healthy and challenging––while the rest of the world is still hungover and asleep––now that's the stuff life is made of. Euphoria will be there when I need her.