Tag Archives: art

A Little Happier: I Read the Short Story that Was Read as Part of My Wedding.

In episode 76, a listener asked for suggestions for great wedding readings, and I promised that I’d read “I Was Trying to Describe You to Someone,” the short story from Richard Brautigan’s wonderful story collection The Revenge of the Lawn that was read at my wedding.

How I love this story! You can read it for yourself here.

Speaking of great quotes, if you’d like to get the “Moment of Happiness,” my free daily email newsletter with a wonderful quotation, sign up here. I love collecting quotations, and choosing the quotation for the daily newsletter is one of my favorite things to do.

Want to get in touch? I love hearing from listeners:

 

Happier listening!

 

What Makes You Creative? What You’ve Seen and Remember–or Something Else?

‘Invention, strictly speaking, is little more than a new combination of those images which have been previously gathered and deposited in the memory. Nothing can come of nothing; he who has laid up no materials, can produce no combinations.”

–Sir Joshua Reynolds, Discourse II

Some people argue that they’re more creative when they stay within the boundary of their own mind.

Do you agree with Sir Joshua Reynolds — that people are the most creative when they expose themselves to many outside influences or not?

Have You Ever Read Anything That Made You Think, “I Must Change My Life”?

A friend showed me the poem “The Archaic Torso of Apollo” on her phone, and told me, “I read this, and I know I want to change my life.”

I read it, too. That last line! It swept me off my feet.

Have you ever read anything that made you think, “I must change my life”?

Archaic Torso of Apollo
by Rainer Maria Rilke

We cannot know his legendary head

with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso

is still suffused with brilliance from inside,

like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

 

gleams in all its power. Otherwise

the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could

a smile run through the placid hips and thighs

to that dark center where procreation flared.

 

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced

beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders

and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:

 

would not, from all the borders of itself,

burst like a star: for here there is no place

that does not see you. You must change your life.

Translated by Stephen Mitchell

That final line! Rarely have I read a single line that was so powerful in its context.

Do You Feel the “Pleasure of the Expected?” Like the Opening Routine of the Tonight Show.

“There is such a thing as the pleasure of the expected. Opening routine of ‘Tonight Show’ provides it; millions would feel cheated if the ceremony were changed.”

— Kenneth Tynan, “Fifteen Years of the Salto Mortale,New Yorker (FYI: salto mortale is the circus term for an aerial somersault performed on a tightrope.)

I definitely feel the pleasure of the expected. For instance, my family and I have been watching The Larry Sanders Show, and I love the moment in the beginning where we hear Hank say, in a low voice, “We’re on in ten seconds, so get ready to have a good time. All right, here we go. This is exciting, isn’t it?”

In fact, I get such a kick out of it that predictable moment that we included it as a clip in episode 60 of the Happier podcast. You can listen here, at 12:55.

How about you, do you feel the pleasure of the expected? Are there things that you enjoy, as they unfold in the same way?

Have You Ever Been Made Happier by a “Modest Splurge?” Of What? For Me, Magic Markers.

I’m an under-buyer, and for the most part, I dislike shopping, errands, and buying stuff.

In fact, one of my happiness-project resolutions is to “Indulge in a modest splurge.” I remind myself that sometimes, it makes me happy to indulge in a modest splurge — to buy something that I don’t absolutely need, but that makes my day brighter in some way.

I indulged in a modest splurge a few days ago.

I was early for a meeting (I’m always early), so I decided to spend the time wandering around an art store. I love just looking at the things in art stores. This store, sadly, was going out of business, so prices were slashed.

As a result, the shelves were fairly bare, but I happened to notice a giant box of beautiful, high-quality, double-ended magic markers.

These particular markers hold special memories for me, because when I was in college, my roommate had twelve of these markers, and she prized them highly. She never let anyone borrow them, and we could use them only under her supervision. (Very wisely–she knew that we’d lose them, or leave the caps loose.) We had so much fun with those markers.

I looked at the price. For a box of markers, it was still expensive. At the same time, it was an extraordinary bargain. But I didn’t really need the markers–we have lots of good markers already. But this was a really good set of markers. It would make me very happy to use them, and my daughters would also use them. But couldn’t we use the markers we already had? Well-made tools make work a joy; having these terrific markers might boost my creativity. Looking at the markers brought back happy memories. But if we didn’t make good use of the markers, I would feel guilty.  Etc., etc., etc.

I bet the other customers thought I was a very odd person — I stood stock still, gazing at the box, as these questions played out in my head, for several minutes.

At last, I remembered my resolution to “Indulge in a modest splurge.” And I thought, well, I’m going to get them! I love them.

I got them home, my daughters were delighted with the markers, we all tried them out — and my older daughter asked, “Can I take some to school tomorrow?”

First, I said “No way.” I was thinking–I want to keep the set nice, I don’t want to risk losing or spoiling one, I want to “save” them to keep them nice, etc.

Then I remembered #7 of my Twelve Personal Commandments. Spend out. I tend to hold things back, so I have to remind myself to spend out. Use things up! Put them into circulation, put them to work! Better to use the markers all the time, and risk losing them, than to save them on the shelf, and never use them at all. (Plus my daughter is fairly responsible.)

Have you ever made a “modest splurge,” where a purchase made you happier? What did you splurge on?