Feeling Good Has Something to Teach You

Assume that your drive to experience pleasure isn’t a barrier to your spiritual growth, but is in fact essential to it. Proceed on the hypothesis that cultivating joy can make you a more ethical and compassionate person. Imagine that feeling good has something important to teach you every day.

~Rob B./Freewill Astrology

What Idiots We Are

Peter Gray on the academic kindergarten:

Race to the Top; what a horrid metaphor for education. A race? Everyone is on the same track, seeing how fast they can go? Racing toward what? The top? The top of what? Education is not a race, it’s an amble. Real education only occurs when everyone is ambling along their own path. We are bringing the worst values and attitudes of our culture to bear on our image of education. What idiots we are.

And from the teachers forced to bring academic curriculum into their kindergarten classrooms:

We see many of our Kindergartners struggle with anxiety about school because they know they are expected to read. … It is now common to hear their little voices announce to us, “I don’t know how to read, I hate reading, I hate school, I am not good at anything.”

Read the entire article here.

Snow Day

My friends in Buffalo are rolling their eyes at how little it takes for us in the Ohio River Valley to call a snow day. A bit of ice on the roads, some flocking on the trees. This morning I looked out the window and said, “Oh, look how pretty.”

And took a snow day.

It’s one of the perks of running your own shop. You can choose to stay home when you need to. You don’t get paid, though. Which is one reason people who run their own shops don’t take many days off.

I sent the usual notices by social media and email, but those don’t catch everybody, so some may arrive at my little café and find the doors locked. Which will displease them.  Especially since it’s cold and icy and they came all that way for a nice lunch.

I’ve been telling them for months to reserve before they come. Send me a text, I say. Call if you must. But reserve, please. Do they do it? Not always. Not everyone. I forgive them. Will they forgive me? ¿Quién sabe? 

Alas: there is no one in the building who can tape a sign on the door offering apologies and explanation. Which is another reason I took the day off: empty building. Who wants to make lunches alone in a big old empty building?

My regular help took a snow day, too. Domino effect.

The reverberations of a single decision are felt along the fault lines of an entire community. Hmm. That’s meta.

Seth Godin says when we’re considering whether our work has value, the question to ask is, would anyone miss it if we stopped doing it?

A few missed me today. I’ve got their texts, their social media comments. So my work has value. Good to know. Sometimes you gotta take a day, right? As a friend used to say, how can they miss you if you never leave?

Bugs

The fleas are tenacious this year. The youngest cat in the household has an allergy to flea bites and he has been miserable with them, but no one’s having an easy time of it. Standard treatments become ineffective as generation after generation of ever-hardier bugs develop resistance to drops, collars, and oral treatments. We’re all scrubbing our floors and upholstery with Dawn dish-washing liquid and hoping for the best.

In her book Deep Creek author Pam Houston writes about the decimation of the western forests by the pine beetle in the 90’s and the spruce bark beetle in the ’00’s, leaving entire mountainsides covered with standing kindling just waiting for a bolt of lightning or an untended campfire. And just this morning I saw this article in the NY Times about antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are transforming what was once a vexing but easily treated infection into something life-threatening.

Here’s my takeaway: it won’t be fire or ice that does us in. It won’t be nukes, it won’t be an asteroid. It’s going to be the bugs.

Where Creativity Might Live

It may be the case that expensive cities are killing creativity, but I suspect the real culprit is the belief that you have to live in a certain sort of place in order to create.

If you want to have time to make your art, it helps to live somewhere that offers low overhead. Cheap rent, or — imagine it! — an affordable mortgage, in a place that’s reasonably well-tended and feels safe. Because chances are it isn’t the city that’s killing your creativity, it’s the amount of money it costs to live there and the amount of time you have to spend acquiring that money. Scarcity — insufficient time, inadequate funds — is the real creativity-killer.

Maybe going home to your “dying” hometown — or some reasonable facsimile thereof — will serve your creativity in ways you can’t imagine from where you are right now.