I have a knack for tending towards seriousness. This is sometimes balanced out by my penchant for the absurd and light hearted. Sometimes. Too often, however, I drown myself in thought and effort and veer towards over-focusing on certain things while paying too little attention to others. Eventually my motivation suffers because the joy in doing things starts to leave me. Finding the joy in things is more than just a nice idea, it's a survival skill.
The last couple of years have been necessarily serious in nature for me, both in personal and professional matters. There are many reasons for this, and I won't bore you all to tears with them. I am happy with many of the results of those efforts, though less than happy with others. Hopefully I've learned a thing or two from the latter. In any case, things have been arcing in a wide sweeping movement towards subtly new directions for me this year.
It has become time to re-find my joy in the various things that I cherish, but in which I have perhaps allowed too much seriousness to creep into, even if required by time and circumstance. It has been a prickly feeling under my skin for the last couple of months, a cocoon I find myself slowly emerging from with new skin to live in.
(Which is odd: we are beginning the march towards Winter, and I am experiencing Spring. I am usually more in step with the seasons than this.)
This has come in the form of simple things: I have finally searched out and found my favorite shampoo again, which happens to be a tea-tree infused magical concoction without any dies or colors or environmental nasties that opens my eyes jubilantly wide with each shower.
It has also come in the form of far less trivial things: I am moving, for the second time in two years, no less. I hate moving as a general rule, but this one has a great motivation: to share life with a special someone for hopefully a long, long time to come. So it is that I will be leaving North America altogether at the end of this Winter to makie a new home in Switzerland.
In between the trivial and the profound, another place I'm aiming to find joy again is here in my blog. It's been somewhat stunted, minus a few bright moments here and there, of late. It got more serious and less personal and more .. well .. less joyful. :) I'd like to shift that, to indulge in my joy in writing here again.
To kick this all off, I thought I'd share a little story from my childhood that came back to me in the shower this morning as the shampoo was doing its magic on my mind. It's the first clear memory I have of experiencing that "a-ha!" moment, something that I have since pursued through attempts to identify, analyze, solve and create. It involved airplanes and playing outdoors and wooden sticks and numbers. So many of the good things of childhood, really. ;)
I was 8 or 9 years old at the time and was playing alone outside on a beautiful sunny day. I saw one of the float planes that take off and land in the waters around the town of Sechelt several times a day pass overhead. As it made it's noisy way above me, I began to wonder just how high up it was. I became entirely lost in the thought of figuring out the answer. Figuring that I couldn't actually get the answer in practice, I set about thinking how I could in theory.
So I imagined myself in a simpler, more perfect scenario to bring the problem within my grasp. In this imaginary place I was standing in a flat, wide grassy field with the airplane in the sky high above and at some distance away. The sun was directly above the airplane, and as such it was casting a shadow that landed directly below the airplane. I figured that I should be able to see this shadow, and if I could somehow measure the distance from me to the shadow on the ground, then measure the angle with which my head was tilted to look at the airplane ... perhaps I'd have enough information to figure out how high the airplane actually was. I ran back to my bedroom and got out some straight wooden sticks from one of my toys and started playing with them on my bed: indeed, if I knew where the shadow was and the angle of my head and that the airplane was directly above the shadow (giving a perfect right angle), there could only be one solution for how high up the airplane could be! What a wonderful idea! I lit up inside with the fireworks of discovery. Just imagine, I thought, at all the things one could accomplish with this idea of solving triangles.
I ran to share my "discovery" with my mother, who calmly informed me that it was called trigonometry and had been discovered ages ago. She was doing the dishes at the time, and from what I recall continued to do so without stopping during our exchange. It was a little disheartening, to be honest, that she didn't share my enthusiasm and that my little idea had already been found and was common knowledge. Rather humbling, in fact. I never did forget the rush of discovery, though. Or the realization of how hard it was to think of something someone else hadn't already thought of.
I've been in pursuit of that feeling ever since, with occasional success, returning to that wonderful warm surge again. Sometimes it's a trivial thing, like writing a poem that manages to strike just the right nerve in me. Sometimes it's witnessing the creation of something new and unexpected and better unfold before me. (Which is why I far prefer live music to studio recorded music, and one reason I find such joy in writing software.) Sometimes it comes from managing to find a new way to perceive the world around me in a way that sheds a different light on what I had once thought mundane or intractable. This is, at its most basic level, a pursuit of joy.
I have not done quite enough of that recently for my own liking, though, and this is a personal reminder to myself to fix that. Perhaps I'm now one blog entry closer. :)