Skip to main content

The Lost Art of Living -- Writer's Poke #383



“Measuring Happiness” is one of my more recent Writer’s Pokes. According to the blogger stats, it’s generating more hits than any other post within the last few weeks. In fact, it’s generating about ten times the amount of interest of any other post. The key word in the title is “Happiness,” and apparently people are searching for it.


Living is an art, or should be. For a long time I had Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” up on my office wall. This is a fairly iconic painting that probably most people know, but why is it so popular? Is it true that most of us live lives of quiet desperation? Am I, and others, attracted to this painting simply because the central focal character is no longer staying quiet?

What makes life so difficult? Many of us may think we’re “connected,” but more and more we spend our lives isolated from real human contact. Even saying “hello” to someone passing by in the hallway may seem pointless, especially if “hello” is the only thing you ever say to that person. Why even bother to go through the social niceties of a greeting? Just walk on by and go about your business.

Kurt Vonnegut suggested that people need to create extended families for themselves, and how these extended families are created doesn’t really matter. We could all pull numbers out of a hat, and all the people that pull twos, for example, could be the Two Clan. People, Vonnegut thought, don’t do well alone. Alone, we tend to break. Go off. Get loopy.

And yet many of us spend the majority of our time alone. We may even think we like being alone. After all, dealing with people is tiring. They don’t always understand. They’re as preoccupied about their own lives as we are with our own.

But finding a group of people to share experiences… what’s better than that? Robert Pirsig observed that reading a classic, for example, is a lost art. People used to read a classic a sentence at a time, stopping at the end of each sentence to discuss it with somebody else. I don’t know if that’s “literally” true or not, but I do know that the power and the joy of discussing a book or a movie with someone can far surpass the act of reading the book or watching the movie in solitude. I also know that as much as I like to write, I find it far more satisfying to discuss my pokes with others than to write them late at night, alone.

Through discussion, the potential for connection; through connection, the potential for art. Without connection, no art, and really, no life.

How “connected” are you to the art of living?

“I do not seek. I find.” – Pablo Picasso

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Summer Day Trip #1: Caledonia, Minnesota

The Wired Rooster Coffee Shoppe -- Caledonia, Minnesota


I've lived in Minnesota for over ten years, sure, but that doesn't mean I've actually seen much of the state. Like most people, I know what I know, and I go where I go. And that's the extent of it. But once I resigned myself to the fact that I wasn't going to make it to Alaska this summer, it occurred to me that I had plenty of sites to explore in the immediate region.

First stop: Caledonia, Minnesota. Where's that? It's a small town in the southeast corner of the state. Before I opened my Rand McNally Road Atlas, I had never heard of it, and before I punched the town name into Trip Advisor, I didn't know if there was anything there worth visiting.

Distance from home: About 75 miles.

Challenge #1: Leaving by 6:30 a.m.

Challenge #2: Taking my dog, Atticus.

Actually, Atticus is a good dog on a road trip, but the forecast indicated that it was going to get into the 90s. I wanted to leave early in the …

Summer Day Trip #3: Jackson, Minnesota

Some time ago in the spring, I found out that David Ellefson, bass player and co-founder of Megadeth, was rebranding the coffee shop in Jackson, Minnesota. Every so often I would tell Linda that I planned to drive over there to check it out, but the morning that I actually decided to drive over there to check it out, I think I surprised her. I’m not sure she thought I would ever do it.
“What else are you going to do over there?”
“Oh, that’s it. Just drive over there, order a cup of coffee, and drive home.”
I had checked out Jackson on Tripadvisor, and honestly, Jackson seemed like it didn’t have much going on. My mind map of southwestern Minnesota was mainly a blank. I knew that I-90 drove through, but I thought perhaps the interstate was a metaphor: Beware ye who enter here, lest ye be on your way to somewhere else.
When I told Tavi we were driving two hours to visit a coffee shop, the idea didn’t seem far-fetched to her. She only had one question, “Do they serve hot cocoa?” I promised …