Friday, October 5, 2012

Pleasing Processes

From time to time, as many of you know, I come back to "happiness" as an issue. What philosophical chap who's worth his weight in cheese doesn't? So, along those lines, it occurred to me that ends are never good. We humans hate ends of things, death especially. This is why we are thinking all wrong when we seek the attainment of a goal -- any goal -- and equate the "arrival" as a potential state of happiness.

I'm not just handing you a superficial bit about the evils of consumerism. It's more than that.

I think for most sane human beings, this formula is true: HAPPINESS = PLEASING PROCESSES.

It's just another version of "the journey, not the destination" thing, I guess.

Lewis and Clark:, in action. Musta been cool. 
All I know is that, for me, my happiest times come down to three things: family, exploration (intellectual or actual) and art. These are all works in progress, aren't they? Just having babies with my wife didn't make life wonderful -- the process of watching them grow and helping them find their way in the world does. As far as exploration is concerned, find answers is satisfying, but it doesn't bring the lasting happiness that the search did. And, with art, the process is the thing. I was happy to have finished my first full length CD, but that happiness has worn away; now I wish I were still working on it, because nothing compares to the contentment I feel sitting at my piano at midnight in my little studio. (So, I begin working on another...)

The ends of these things are the bad parts. I have a master's degree in English. Who cares? It doesn't make me really proud anymore (especially in world where master's degrees are a nickel a dozen, anymore) but I sure do miss those days in grad school: the nights surrounded by books and notes; the companionship of like-minded people; the complete devotion to making literary and poetic meaning; days in the library or in class and nights behind the drums or living through the shimmering days of budding passion and romance with my some-day-to-be wife....


But I don't miss it too much, because I still do versions of that stuff every day. And I do mean every day. Some day, I hope to miss these days, too.

What do I want to achieve? A constant state of trying to achieve.


  1. For a moment I tried to remember why "pleasing process" sounded so Yeatsian--actually, that would be "pleasing prospect" from "John Kinsella's Lament for Mrs. Mary Moore"...

    "Worth his weight in cheese". I'm gratified by a quick calculation that shows me--according to the insurance company--comfortably ahead of Gruyere at the local Whole Foods.

    1. Besides giving me good belly-laugh, George, you have also made me aware that I, up to this point, have never had any idea how to spell "Gruyere." Kudos on both points, my friend.