Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The fun principle

I can't tell you how many times I've heard "I'll quit the day it stops being fun". Or "it just wasn't fun anymore, you know?"

For a long time this made sense, but upon further examination I’ve decided I don’t buy the fun principle. While I do consider the pursuit of happiness should be central to everybody’s life, I believe true happiness is a thing with substance.

The false sense that you “deserve better” (“deserve” – such a dangerous word!), that life is supposed to be a great big party, leaves me wanting.

More importantly, I believe that if I expected it to be that way I would set myself up to be regularly disappointed.

What I want, a lot more than laughs, to be amused or to be playful, is to live in a place (within myself) where I’m always learning. Where the fear of failing at something is never what is guiding my decision to get involved in it or not. Where I have people to love. Even to be surrounded by things – simple, useful things – that I consider beautiful.

That seems worth sticking around for.


Saturday, May 15, 2010


I love this poem by Wislawa Szymborska. It invites me to make my own list of preferences.


I prefer movies.

I prefer cats.

I prefer the oaks along the river.

I prefer Dickens to Dostoyevsky.

I prefer myself liking people

to myself loving mankind.

I prefer keeping a needle and thread on hand, just in case.

I prefer the color green.

I prefer not to maintain

that reason is to blame for everything.

I prefer exceptions.

I prefer to leave early.

I prefer talking to doctors about something else.

I prefer the old fine-lined illustrations.

I prefer the absurdity of writing poems

to the absurdity of not writing poems.

I prefer, where love's concerned, nonspecific anniversaries

that can be celebrated every day.

I prefer moralists

who promise me nothing.

I prefer cunning kindness to the over-trustful kind.

I prefer the earth in civvies.

I prefer conquered to conquering countries.

I prefer having some reservations.

I prefer the hell of chaos to the hell of order.

I prefer Grimm’s' fairy tales to the newspapers' front pages.

I prefer leaves without flowers to flowers without leaves.

I prefer dogs with uncropped tails.

I prefer light eyes, since mine are dark.

I prefer desk drawers.

I prefer many things that I haven't mentioned here

to many things I've also left unsaid.

I prefer zeroes on the loose

to those lined up behind a cipher.

I prefer the time of insects to the time of stars.

I prefer to knock on wood.

I prefer not to ask how much longer and when.

I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility

that existence has its own reason for being.

Wislawa Szymborska

(Nothing Twice, trans. by S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh)

Photo: www.realsimple.com

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Oh, mom.

You probably don't remember.

You watched "The Changeling", that movie where Angelina Jolie loses her child. He's replaced by another she does not know and told it is her son. No one believes her when she says it isn't. She is thrown into an insane asylum.

You call to tell me you loved the movie, to which I reply I thought it was beautiful but too terrible for words. You say, perplexed "what in the world did you find so terrible about it?" I summarize the plot. "Oh." You respond. "I only remember the incredible photography."

My husband posted a video of me trying out working in the rice fields in Vietnam. It shows Vietnamese workers in their cone shaped hats teaching me how to soften the hard earth, quickly losing their patience at my incompetence and unceremoniously waving me off the field. It's aptly titled "Dushka gets fired in Vietnam".

Your comment to the video is "She will try anything. If you leave her there 10 minutes longer she'll be in charge and showing the Vietnamese women how to do it."

We all need a dose of this gift of yours to block what you don't want to see. Everyone should be lucky enough to be mistaken for someone far better than they really are. I don't know what I will do when I lose the only person in the world who think I am invincible.