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What’s Making me Happy?

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Two full years ago, an epoch in internet time, I wrote about the easy negativity of this medium so many of us use as primary communications. I encouraged you (and me) to Talk About What’s Good… and mostly have failed to do that. In general I’ve been better about not giving into the pulsating lizard-brain drive to jump into the constant kvetching. But the goal isn’t simple avoidance, it’s counter programming. The goal is creating content that isn’t about how someone is wrong or stupid or evil or some combination of the three.

I was reminded of this while listening to NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour in the car coming back from West Texas this weekend. They end each podcast with what’s making them happy that week. I want in. I’m going to try to make a post each Wednesday with something that’s been making me happy in the previous week. I welcome you to join in.

I have been busier in this past two years than I ever have been. Mixing theatre and work and life into too few hours and then drinking deep. Busy to the point that the word itself stopped being an adjective for my schedule and began standing in for an emotion: “How are you?” “BUSY”.

You just can’t let your let your life get like that. That sort of frantic inbalance eats your humanity and closes the world down to the next task, the next waystation on the calendar. When the tasks are both physical and mental at the same time the brain clutters and attention span shortens.  Your head slumps and your vision narrows to the steps immediately ahead of you instead of the broader world and more importantly the people in it.

This week the thing that’s been making me happy is Space:

Tex99DavisMtns3

 

This weekend Megan and I finally made it out to one of her two out of town Christmas presents  and visited Marfa. Marfa is in the far west Texas high desert and the entire region is basically built of time, space and long attention spans. The next town is 40 miles.

True quiet.

True dark.

Time.

We left a little after noon on Friday and I got to spend a little over six hours in the car talking  and singing with my wife. The luxury of having six uninterrupted hours with nothing more than the road to distract me was amazing.

That night we visited the McDonald Observatory and in the True Dark we saw more stars than I have ever seen in my life.

On Saturday we spent the day in Marfa taking the Chinati Foundation tour and just visited art for hours.

Dan Flavin

We were visiting art that Donald Judd had gone out of his way to give its own space. Whether the pieces were created for the galleries they were permanently displayed in or simply displayed in galleries that best suited they weren’t crowded and curated into ad hoc shows… they were breathing:

Judd - Aluminum

Sunday we drove out to Balmorrhea State Park and swam in the springs and read for a couple of hours.

Balmorrhea

Space.

Room to breathe.

Time to think.

A reset.

Post swim

That’s what’s making me happy this week.

How about you?

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  • Brandon Moore

    First off, thanks so much for the effort with this series. As I was reminded three weeks ago, in a particularly low moment of internet-driven paranoia, insecurity, and cynicism: the bathtub could use a LOT more bubbles. If you’re able to write it every week, I will certainly make the (admittedly far-less-demanding) commitment to read it every week.

    I’ve been in that “emotional state of busy” myself with work and life and theatre for a while, and then feeling guilty when I do give myself that space in the day instead of moving onto the next task on a to-do list.

    So we’re taking a “reset” ourselves this upcoming weekend, traveling down to Niagara. Aside from some externally-imposed theatre curtain times and a scheduled anniversary dinner with close friends who will coincidentally be in town, we’re trying not to substitute one list with another to-do-list of scheduled, recreational outings. Hopefully we’ll come out of it as happy as the two of you look.

    Thanks for sharing this.