Posts Tagged ‘self-improvement’

From the Editor’s Perch

March 23, 2013
Do it.

Do it. 

Stop it.

Stop it.


Do It, Then Stop

Here is a ‘pleasure generator’:

It has been found that events of great pleasure in my day are either when I begin to do something, or when I stop.  For example, by the end of the day I’m tired and sleepy and there is nothing better than brushing and flossing and piling into bed, and then lying there in the dark to let my mind wind down and exult in the soft mattress and the warm covers with the cold and rain securely outside, and the calm rising up inside, while my dog licks my face and we talk.  I remember that I have money in the bank and food in the fridge, and a wife and a son and a dog and a cat, and a car that runs well.  After a while, I push off the dog and the cat hops up.  And I rub him, feel the mats I need to brush out, and we talk a while in the dark.  And then I push the cat off and roll over and fall asleep. A good half hour of pleasure.  Cost: very little.

Of course we all vary.  And on a scale of “Do it” versus “Stop it”, I would guess I come down fairly heavily on the “Stop it” side.

Perhaps this is why I am so reluctant to commit myself to something which is supposed to be fun and active, like a vacation.  A vacation can be hard to stop.  They are hard enough to start.  And just the planning can take us well out of our way.  Where’s the flexibility? And everybody knows that vacations can well get out of hand.  Just watch Harvard Lampoon’s “Summer Vacation” – which is only one of a very many cautionary tales!

But nearly everything can be made pleasurable by employing my “Do it, Stop it.” ‘pleasure generator’.  Probably even a Harvard Lampoon Vacation.  If you don’t like something you’re doing, then stop.  You’ll immediately feel better.  Or if you’re bored, then do something.  You’ll feel better eventually, and if you don’t, then stop doing it!  It can’t be simpler.  And if you can’t think of anything you’d like to do – then do something you don’t like to do… and look forward to stopping doing that.  It’ll feel great!  You can’t miss.  You might even want to go a little longer for a greater kick.

(Feel better?)

Really, this is a philosophy which always leaves the door open, and plays well with other(s)  philosophies and lifestyles.  “Do it, Then Stop” is a team player.

A lot of people would call people like myself a dilettante, or possibly a flaneur (Fr. trifler), or for the more modern, a ‘slacker’.  To this I would give two replies.  First a lot of people aren’t very happy.  L  And second, you can get a lot farther if you stop to rest.  (And maybe have a coffee.)  J  Anybody should understand that.

In the morning, when I wake, I lie there a while, thinking about getting up but not doing it.  You see the trick is to stop it – and then all of a sudden I’ve done it; I’ve sat up without thinking of it.  I sigh.  I love to sigh.  So maybe I do it a couple more times –  until I’ve had enough.  And maybe I’d enjoy feeling sorry for myself, so maybe I indulge myself in that for a few more minutes… casting myself as a great romantic figure, doomed by some higher ideal, like earning a living.

Then I leave the radio on while I prepare.  I sure am brighter than those knuckleheads who call in, and I enjoy the music.  But if I’m not, I can turn it off.  And my whole day goes something like this.  I make the commute interesting with coffee and a favorite radio show or music.  And then I finish the coffee and the radio and the driving and get to work, where it’s good to get out of the car.  It’s good to stop and stretch my legs.  Then I picture the work hurdles and jump them one by one.  It feels good to land on the other side of each one and to get something done.  Take a moment to look back.  Or maybe it feels good to place something else on the backburner.  Or maybe take something else off the backburner.  Whatever.  You get the idea.  And then I’m a little thirsty, so I slake it.  I look forward to lunch and then, when I’m done, I enjoy feeling satisfied.  I pat my stomach, and then back to work to enjoy a short conversation or two.  And then I enjoy passing my co-workers in good humored silence.

On the weekends, which is that big ‘stop’ at the end of the week, there’s nothing better than to start something.  You get the idea?  You’re always just playing one thing against the other.  Say I mess around in the soil and get my hands dirty, if it’s a nice day, or perhaps I fix something.  And then, when I’ve worked up enough of a sweat, it feels great to stop and treat myself to a beer.  Take a long shower and clean up.  Both of which make the wife happy…

(It is the weekend, after all…)

Or if I make a few extra minutes, I stop downstairs and try to capture a thought I’ve had swimming around in my head for a few hours.

Photos from Google Images

From the Editor’s Perch…

June 23, 2012


Does Art Make You a Better Person?

A lot of people, mostly artists I’ve noticed, say it does.   And it’s usually only artists – or people in arts related careers, who are pitching for a fuller revenue stream  – who broach this topic.  You rarely hear of a lawyer, or a garbage collector, or a plumber, or a cop, or a mayor, or any of any number of professions raise this question about themselves.  They seem to take it for granted that being paid for doing something useful is worthwhile, and hopefully, that participating in life in this capacity makes them a better person.  But it may not.  That’s the way it goes.  A person has to get the food on the table. 

However, artists have a lot of trouble even ‘getting food to the table’.  So another reason to justify doing what they are doing seems necessary.  Personally, I would keep looking for a reason, because I haven’t seen the theater turning out superior persons.  Mostly it makes them like gambling addicts who will squander their last few dollars to create a hit.  Their relationships founder; their lawns are not mown;  weeds abound in the flower beds, their homes tilt; the children either aren’t conceived or grow up a little funny, and financially the whole consortium dances right along the edge.  Actors and writers maintain that assuming the personalities of a variety of characters gives them insight into the human condition.  What I see is that it adds quite a little arrogance to their own condition.  We are always writing/acting ourselves.  Who’s kidding who?  It’s as plain as the nose on our faces – which doesn’t change.  Has art made me a better person?  I can’t say it has.  But age, and life, may have formed me a bit.

How About Beer?

But has beer made me a better person?   I can’t say it has, either.  But I enjoy it.  And so I enjoy art.  I enjoy making it.  I enjoy watching and listening and experiencing it.  I enjoy talking about it.  And like most artists, I figure out a method  of paying my way.   Isn’t that enough?  

Photo by Carl Nelson of John Ruoff/Mime

Addendum:  “There are, of course, more important things than art:  life itself, what actually happens to you.  This may sound silly, but I have to say it, given what I’ve heard art-silly people say all my life…  Art shouldn’t be overrated.”  – Clement Greenberg

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