Jane wrote this, this morning. She is writing for Connection Well, and yet, it fits here too.
I must confess. My resolve to have a poem memorized every month has gotten a slow start. I realize I am much more familiar with will and discipline than I am with that "space, that empty space, which should surround you." I'm seeing that, for me, that space is needed for remembering the words of others as much as it is needed for calling words forth out of the universe.
Which puts me in mind of the book I'm reading. It's called Happier by Tal Ben Shahar. It's required reading for a group I'm in. The dust jacket proclaims: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment." The required marketing quote states: "It's easy to see how this is the backbone of the most popular course at Harvard today." Martin P. Seligman. All of which has made me skeptical and resistent. I even found myself reading the book on BART with the dust jacket removed, the spine concealed and the bold "self-help" section headings (Tip! and Try This) covered up. God forbid I'd be reading something called Happier.
In spite of it all, the book's message is seeping in. The section I'm reading right now speaks to the choice of models we have for approaching learning and effort. There is the drowning model, which demonstrates that "the desire to free ourselves of pain can be a strong motivator and that once freed we can easily mistake our relief for happiness." This is me, dutifully giving "time" to my writing practice, or "trying" to memorize a poem.
Then there is the lovemaking model. In this model we can approach "the many wonderful hours that we put into reading, researching, thinking and writing...as foreplay. The Eureka experience -- when the boundary between knowledge and intuition breaks...is like the climax. As with the drowning model, there is a desirable end goal , but in the lovemaking model, we derive satisfaction from everything we do along the way."
This is where I'd really like to live.
- Jane Flint