Joyful Narcissus


I love how Ho Tai looks like he’s celebrating the daffodils here.

Of course, the lovely thing about Ho Tai is he looks like he’s always celebrating everything. I suppose it says something that we have him in our garden. It tells you what I worship most. What I strive for.

Is it silly to say joy?

There are so many opportunities to read and watch the awful, the hateful, the depressing. People are angry and afraid and feel more free than ever before, it seems, to vent that to the world.

Heather Armstrong, better known as Dooce, and a blogger I admire, was recently invited to D.C. to participate in a forum on workplace flexibility. She’s kind of a poster child for it, because she was famously fired from her job back in the early 2000s for something(s) she wrote in her blog. So much so that being “dooced” means having that happen to you. A phenomenon of the new era. Now she supports her family from her blog and works from home.

But apparently, people were angry that she was chosen. It doesn’t surprise me, I suppose, though I didn’t read any of the comments. Heather elicits a lot of strong emotions from people, largely because she lays it all out there and doesn’t mince words. She also, like many people who are very good at what they do, makes it look effortless. So, she seems to be succeeding for doing nothing more than taking pictures of her dog and yakking about her children.

I’ve been going back and reading through her archives from the beginning. It’s like a long, real-time memoir. I’m fascinated by the window she’s allowed us into her life. That’s the best kind of memoir-writing, in my opinion.

What people don’t understand about writing memoir, or personal essays, which is what many blogs truly are, is that you’re still making artistic choices.

In short: you don’t tell every damn thing.

Even if it seems like you do.

There have been a number of discussions lately about how much of yourself to put on the internet and how much to keep private. Authors are encouraged by their agents and publishers to blog, but not everyone is good at it. Some authors are so concerned with their privacy that their blogs end up being little more than updates on books and appearances. Good information, but not interesting reading. Others go too far the other way and use their blogs as a dumping ground to vent about what makes them unhappy. Which, while it can be a way to connect with other people, runs the risk of being, well, not entertaining.

Kev warned me early on not to yield to the temptation to turn my blog into a rant, which annoyed me at the time. Most likely because he was right.

It’s hard to predict, of course, how people will react to what you write. I’m still surprised by which of my posts get attention and which don’t. I always enjoy seeing which elicit the most comments, both here and through other venues. It’s fun, because no other kind of writing garners immediate feedback like blogging does. But then, I rarely get negative comments.

I find myself moving to shield myself from the negative these days. I stay away from most “news.” I unfollow people who say things that depress me. I don’t read the nasty things that people say about Dooce.

Am I burying my head in the sand? I don’t think so. There’s plenty of pain out there. I know what’s going on politically – though my philosophy is to find out what I need to about candidates, elect the ones who stand for what I do and then I let them handle it. I feel like I hire them to worry about it so I don’t have to.

Sometimes I share my pain here – mostly if I feel like it helps to tell the story. That’s what it’s all about, telling the story. Sometimes I even have a point.

Maybe that’s why talking about joy seems silly sometimes. There’s not much of a moral there.

Except, oh look! Pretty daffodils!

Joy and Other Indoor Sports

I love this image.

One day I’d like to journey to the remote part of China where this cliff-carving is, just to see it for real.

What I love is how the sculptor(s) capture the sense of movement and joy. The Bodhisattvas, though captured in stone, are dancing.

To me, that’s what life and enlightenment are about: being so filled with joy that it moves you to dance.

Lately I’ve been feeling sensitive to anger. Maybe it’s just a symptom of bad economic times, but I’m noticing so many harsh responses on a variety of fronts.

I’ve been noticing writers criticizing other writers in mean ways. Or making lists of things they think writers shouldn’t do.

One of my favorite bloggers, Heather Armstrong, finally listed with ads all the hateful comments she receives, figuring that if people are goling to pour out that kind of hate, she could at least get revenue from it. I notice she’s taken the page down now. I read a bit and felt so soiled by the things people said that I couldn’t bear to keep going.

A colleague sent a “funny” email to me that was a collection of pics of office refrigerator notes. Again, the parade of passive/agressive rage at people who took or molested food from the communal fridge only left me feeling sad.

Granted, I’m not good with anger. I’m one of those people whose parents never fought in front of her, so she doesn’t like to see people fight. When I hear people yell in anger, I physically flinch. I feel emotionally slapped, even if it’s not directed at me. I’m a big believer that you don’t talk when you’re mad, because once something is said, it can’t be unsaid, regardless of apologies.

In short, I’m a total pansy about conflict.

I know that conflict is part of life and one must deal as it arises. And yet, I think there’s nothing wrong with focusing on the positive. In fact, I think it’s crucial to find the joy and not the rage. I suspect there are very few exceptions to the old rule, that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

It’s hard for me to imagine the dancing Bodhisattva’s leaving hate comments on someone’s blog.