Questionable Behavior

I will never deny that much of my behavior, if not my very being, is in highly questionable taste. I am uncouth. And I’m certainly unsettled, if not unsettling.digital illustration

Generally, though, I would prefer to attribute this to having an ongoing and dedicated case of childlike curiosity. It seems to me it’d be a pity not to have this particularly happy mental condition. Why on earth would anyone want to stop being filled with wonder and awe at the astounding and miraculous and unpredictable world around us? How dull and tedious would that world be if everything were explainable, understood, known and codified! And if my only response to it all is a mere shrug of casual acceptance, what excitement or new pleasures can I expect?

Far better to make a fool of myself by being thrilled with the strange, attracted to the odd. Far more marvel and delight in believing that every door opened, every corner turned is a very thin barrier, a fine veil, between my present state and an unexplored or unimagined place of sweetness and inspiration. So I hope you’ll pardon my manners if I get a bit overworked and can’t quite contain my enthusiasm. A kid’s gotta dream.

Here in the Attic

digital artwork from photographsTreasury

Click and clatter,

chuckle, chatter,

in the attic,

nascent natter

tells a tale of

bits and bobbins,

delicate as

little robins’

eggs and feathers,

soft as heather,

sings of history

and hidden

secrets dusty

and ghost-ridden,

‘mid the bones

and bolts and buckles,

be they sweet as

honeysuckle’s

scent remembered,

or the laughter

in the rafters

heard hereafter,

recollections

of old treasure,

holding motes of

passing pleasure—

sneeze, and all the

atoms scatter

to the corners,

click

and

clatter.

Amusement is No Respecter of Persons

For a universe where we’re all so hung up on our status, image and importance, the world as we know it is also the locus of a truly great leveler: fun. Very rare is the person, however high or low in the hierarchy of social or political or religious or educational import, who doesn’t relish laughter. Fun, and the love of it, are boundary-resistant. Childlike happiness should know no limits.

I know the little tale attributing to Queen Victoria the remark that ‘We are not amused’–a condition she can easily be forgiven for bemoaning, even if it was ostensibly because of someone else’s attempts to convince her of his own divergent sort of hilarity. Throughout history, contentment has been best enjoyed when it’s pushed to its jovial limits by gently encouraging frolic and humor, curiosity and amazement and amusement that can be shared. The current culture oughtn’t to hold anyone back from being pleased and entertained any more than these should be constrained by one’s politics, nationality, gender, tastes, age or any other facet of personal identity. Joy is joy, no matter what your nature or your preferred brand.

So I, for one, think it’s a good idea to cultivate smiles and laughter and playfulness as assiduously as I can. If I can share it with others, even better. If others can contribute some fun to the cause as well, we might be able among us to create a contagious stream of happiness that can expand further and further yet. Doesn’t that sound worthwhile, now, really?graphite drawing

Wag if You Know What I Mean

photoA Whiff of Happiness

While all you two-legs types are mired

And wallowing in wintry fear,

I see spring’s hints and am inspired

To smell the happiness from here

What gain or merit mankind finds

In only frigid, dormant joy,

When you could wag those sad behinds,

Dance forward, every girl and boy—

Hold on to sorrow if you must,

While I lap up those thrills made dear

By breaking through the frozen dust:

I smell the happiness from here!

The Cloche Wins in the Clutch

There mightn’t be any reason to connect the hat known as the cloche with the bell for which it’s named, given the resemblance of their shapes. The similarity may end there.graphite drawing Unless you want to make a silly cheap pun and say that the hat kind of rings a bell for some reason.

More productive, probably, to just work on drawing curves by sketching a figure wearing a cloche and simply exaggerating the resemblance a little bit more by simplifying the shapes to an extreme. Whether it’s quite characteristic of my style of drawing or not, it might be that I tend to like drawing curvy forms just because the arm and hand action that creates them is comfortable and pleasing to me when I draw.

The long and the short of it is that practice may make me better at drawing, but it also makes me happy as an activity in itself and for its own sake, and drawing curved forms feels pleasant and encourages me to draw more. And that, if I’m in the mood to draw curved forms, why then, drawing a cloche hat is a handy way to get into the process.

Shallow, I know. What do you expect from a person who makes cheesy puns in public and draws in a particular style merely because it feels nice!

 

Life is a Many-Layered thing

Maybe it’s the arrival of the cooler weather that gets me thinking such thoughts again, or maybe it’s just getting older that does the trick–either way, I’m reminded of how many good things come in layers. I’m not, of course, opposed to the idea that every layer should be happy and delicious, like some sort of mythic and epic cake with ridiculously tasty fillings of many kinds sandwiched between the already insanely delicious cake layers, and then whipped cream on top and ice cream at the side, and probably some chocolate fudge topping and salted nuts . . . but I know, too, that the plain and simple, and even sometimes the sorrowful or melancholy, can give added piquancy and sweetness to the layers of joy.

Today I am mindful of how fortunate I’ve been to have had so little of the bitter stirred in with my sweet life. I am thinking of the great gifts I’ve enjoyed in this favored existence of mine and of how many of those are directly from the generous and loving and fun and gracious people who surround me on an everyday basis, whether by being physically near to me or simply carried in my heart as they go about their ways in other parts of the world. Birthdays are, for me, another and more personal form of Thanksgiving Day, because I can’t help but be awed and delighted when I think of all of the rich and beautiful things that have been given me in my lovely life.

In this, I am layering on garments of gratitude and pleasure and happiness and adorning myself with the regal accessories of the truly blessed, because I have you, and people like you, in a great wave of support and spirited companionship that buoys me up every year, and every day, of my life.graphite drawing

 

Foodie Tuesday: Guess My Weight!

photoI’ve always thought of those who focus on weight as being a little bit mean and, no pun intended, narrow-minded. There used to be people at the State Fair whose sole skill was apparently to guess the weight of passersby, and I could never imagine what purpose that served, most particularly what positive purpose it could possibly have. There are still plenty of places, notably supplement, nutrition and ‘health’ stores, that keep scales around for customers’ use, and again, that strikes me as unfriendly, since the aim seems to be to make people aware of their ‘improper’ weight so that they will purchase all sorts of cures and rescues from the proprietors. Yet another cruel use of the scale: humiliation and robbery. All perfectly legal and, the perpetrators would likely argue, well-meaning, as of course their goal is to save lives and make people healthy along the way. Sorry about the miserable portion of the transaction, y’all, but it’s necessary.

Well, yes, sometimes intervention’s the only tenable solution. But not nearly so often as one might think, if only when guided by the popular imagery of skinny-as-beautiful, as successful, as admirable, and anything other than skinny as not so. I’m well aware that to help one achieve and maintain good health over a long life, generally speaking it’s advisable to keep one’s weight in a range that is proportionate in a fairly specific way to one’s height, bone structure, and/or other physical criteria. But it’s also true that not only are there plenty of variables besides weight that are significant parts of the health and longevity puzzle but many people outside the ‘norms’ strictly in weight also survive and thrive and even live very long lives doing so. An additional truth: that beauty is widely, wildly variable in its manifestations, and in how we perceive it.

There is still the business about how my weight makes me feel, emotionally yes but more especially so, physically. I’m one of those fairly despicable people who never struggled with trying to weigh anything but what I did by simple default, but like most people (at least most of the privileged people I’ve known), I find that’s changing little by little as I age. So now, what little my weight changes has a more noticeable effect on how I feel. The bad news is that at long last, I do find it takes a little bit of effort to keep my weight in my own comfort zone. The good news is that, so far, it does take relatively little effort, because two small changes are starting to make it easier for me to predict what will or won’t work for me, in dietary terms.

Two small things: one, that I eat less heavily processed [‘junk’] food and see that more of what I do eat is thoughtfully prepared (i.e., not ‘junked up’ in preparation); the second, that I eat more thoughtfully. I simply don’t need to eat the quantities I eat, nor as often as I do so. Simple. Yet not. Because, of course, I’m your typical habit-ridden, easily tempted, food crazy creature, and I have grown up eating what I wanted, when I wanted, in whatever big batches I wanted, and without many consequences. Now that I’m subject to consequence it’s not quite an instantaneous transition to being smart about my eating, least of all about only eating when I’m genuinely hungry. I’m working on it. I feel better when I stick to it.

And I’m still not going to go hopping on the scale to weigh myself. How many pounds I weigh has nothing to do with whether my clothes fit the way I’d like them to or whether I feel attractive, and less than nothing to do with whether I’ll feel well and be healthy or I’ll survive for many years to come. So many factors play a part in that equation. I just want to help tip the odds a little in my favor if I can by eating a bit less, and a little bit less often, and when I do eat, eating things I really, truly enjoy, with mindful pleasure. More fun, and I hope, for a much longer time.photo