Sunday, April 12, 2015

Points of Note

Two little tipping point things happened this week:

1] For the umpteenth time, I walked past an advert for Cadillac quoting Abigail Adams who is declaring that "a calm is not desirable in any situation in life." [I, for one, would prefer that my neurosurgeon be calm. Call me crazy, but there it is.]

2] At least four times in recent days, a post was included in my feed about drinking coffee, reading books, and being happy followed with many "amens" declaring that if you were doing the first two, obviously, the third would be the result.

My point of discomfort comes from how easily it is to disguise marginalization and also elitism as validation. The ironies on both sides abound.

Coffee + reading = happiness? I love great stories. I love reading. I love being happy. I once loved coffee. In the last several years, coffee has become the new niche non-alcoholic varietal based area of specialty for many. A new arena for highly discerning palates. It's quite status based and driven by the coolness factor here in SF, as I'm sure it is in many other places. It's a bit wearying when one simply wants a cuppa joe. That said, even decaf coffee now often makes me queasy and if I'm stressed and / or underslept, it can trigger a seizure. [Another upvote for the attractiveness of calm.] I also love reading and books and gathering knowledge in general, but sometimes my body aches to move and feel muscle burn. I want actual interaction, whether to vent, share, listen, laugh, and hopefully, all of those at length and at different, unplanned intersections. 

Sometimes, I just want to be quiet with someone and do nothing at all but stare at clouds or garden or drive or walk. Or attempt to create something lovely together that fails spectacularly and collapse in bend over, tear inducing laughter, snorts and whoops included...then have an iced tea or a beer or a glass of cheap wine. Smile and savor the warmth of the moment. Those moments are no less overflowing with joy and happiness. They are full of serendipity and wonder that cannot be captured in a perfectly posed Pinterest tile or an advert. And nothing against that [because I deeply appreciate the production talent that goes into crafting eye catching images, but life and joy are often messy, perfectly imperfect moments that weave themselves together to become that beautiful warp and woof of a life well lived...much like your favorite pair of jeans, jandals, and threadbare t-shirt.

Still, as much as I want to celebrate my everchanging moments of joy, I do hesitate at the "obviously" statement. I simply find it so exclusionary.

I think it's great that people love their coffee and their reading and have found it to be an automatic path to happiness. Clearly, certain ad campaigns think you need to be in a constant state of chaos and disarray in order to have achieved a measure of accomplishment that will afford you a luxury car that resembles a glossy, low rider, repurposed tank. [No judgment on that esthetic, but it does seem sort of over the top unless you actually require a sassy repurposed tank for safety and survival.] 

Is it not inconceivable to think that there is more to it than just a single unilateral declarative statement?

As much as you may want to embrace your passion and declare it as your personal peak experience, perhaps be careful before declaring it as THE peak experience. A deaf person's life is no less extraordinary because they have yet to auditorily experience a symphony...nor is a hike with your loved ones in hushed silence, or watching a friend or family member score the goal, hit their mark, reach a personal best in the midst of shouts of enthusiasm. Here is happiness. Here is joy. It takes many forms.

Often, joy can be an unexpected present instead of the result of a designated or fixed calculation of the future. I wonder how much more fulfilling moments could be if we weren't constantly told what the "obvious" parameters are expected to be.
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