The boys got back from Colorado Wednesday night–it was un-freakin’-believable how much I missed them–and while Jim and I were waiting at the airport for the cutest little unaccompanied minors in Portland, I finished Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Cziksasome’nwhattheheck. I’m the original anti-selfhelpbook girl (except GTD! GTD is not a book! It’s a lifestyle! Join us… join us…), but this book sounded interesting when I first heard about it from Stacy Julian a million and a half years ago, and in the last several months it just kept popping up in conversations and on blogs and whatnot until I finally felt helpless to resist and compelled to purchase it.
So. Anyway. IANAP (I am not a psychologist), but I think Czickasawzallmighty might be onto something here. His basic argument is that those times when we are the most genuinely happy are not those when we are necessarily "relaxing" (boy, does he have a bone to pick with TV), but when we are engaged in an activity that stretches us to the limits of our capabilities and which absorbs us to the point that there’s no room for negative thoughts (which he calls "psychic entropy") to leak in.
This corresponds pretty closely with what I’ve been thinking about as far as GSH (Getting Sh*t Handled, if’n you missed it the first time around–the "art" and "science" of using GTD principles to fight depression). Essentially, I’ve found that if I stay busy enough and always have a task or activity ready for any level of energy, there’s not much opportunity to dwell on self-fulfilling bad thoughts. If I have only 10 minutes to spare, I can usually knock out 3 to 5 things on my to-do list (funny how they always take half as long as I anticipate), and the boost of having Gotten Things Done usually propels me onward and upward to a new Thing To Get Done.
So I started a new book, one which I bought oh untold zillions of ages ago. You know how sometimes you buy a book and then when you have time to read, you look at that book and you think "oh, no, that’s a GOOD book; I’m going to save it for when I have time to REALLY read; I think I’ll re-read this three-year-old copy of Cook’s Illustrated instead"? (Please tell me I’m not the only person who does this. Regularly.)
Anyway, I decided to just pick up the book and read it, and the book is March by Geraldine Brooks. And the first 68 pages–all I’ve read so far–are already the saddest damn thing I’ve read in years. But not sad in a falling-off-the-GSH-wagon kind of way. Sad in two ways: both, of course, in an enormously affecting way, because the character of March and the events he describes are so true-to-life and heartrending, and sad because I could write thirty-seven hours a day from now until 2083 and not have the literary talent in my whole body that Geraldine Brooks has in her little finger.
But that didn’t stop me from sending off the first 28 pages of (yet another!) possible novel (it’s OK; I wrote it last year) to the esteemed azureavian, who seemed to like it OK. Thaaaaanks, Rachel. I’m going to try to get another chunk hammered out in the next few days. I kinda dig the story.
(Also: my current light bedtime reading: The Oxford Illustrated History of Greece and the Hellenistic World. Wanna hear about Thucydides?)