Monday, October 5, 2009

“I can think farther than that but I forget”

That’s the fifth line of Merwin’s “The Nomad Flute” (continuing from my previous posting, last month).

In this stage of my life, I have an inner-directed sense of living well, not very decorative—a good sense of thriving, I feel, but unattached to its materiality (or lack of it). I'm not an imagist.

I live simply, by design. To love the day, in all its externalities, is to me about the selectivity of appreciating those externalities, a matter of the sensibility, the appreciating.

Likewise, wholeheartedness in ethics is about the sensibility toward the world, whatever the details of the world. To capture a holism of living well is about the whole, the living, and one’s sense of well-growing, whatever the content of the living, the objects of appreciation.

A sense of humanistic belonging is open about whatever humanness is at hand: delightful persons in my life, fidelity to a community, aspiration to understand our humanity, or to somehow comprehend our species being—impossible maybe, but worthwhile to venture, abstract but not pointless.

In other news....

Happiness, I think, is not basically about tides of feeling, rather about the quality of one’s life, the degree of cherished value one has. To many persons, having too many books to get through isn’t especially appealing. But to me, I'm an intrepid hiker with there being no end of destinations.

I’d say I’m happy, though I may have more “bad” days than good ones, as a matter of mood. (I don’t have more bad days than good, but I might and still claim that I have a largely-happy life.) The happy life is one that has fulfilling time enough, value enough. Someone might put me in a “bad” mood regularly, but still I might claim that my life was happy enough, fulfilling enough—though never as fulfilling as I might make it, had I more free time. (So, I agree with Philippa Foot in Natural Goodness that true happiness is about availability of fulfillment.)

I told a friend recently: “We make whatever lasting value our lives have, and we have to tend it, like anything that’s living.” So it is with any sense of high value or sacredness that’s alive for us, not a monument. What can be more worthwhile than seeking meaningfulness, treasuring what’s found (or who’s found), and advancing meaningfulness?

The most viable sense of good, “the good,” or “goodness,” is a matter of how we value. What is the Project of your life that lets all its busyness stay together as the purposefulness of your ownmost life? If a life can be an art, its work would be fidelity to its ownmost purposefulness (not a singular Purpose, but a garden of purposes, altogether composing one’s concerted time).

Feeling life is mirrored in its dailiness, but, for me, it’s secured through embodiment: sensuality, eros, and insightful attunement to happenstance and chances for constructive play (which includes being an idiot in new ways).

But the body of our living, one’s world which one’s life expresses, is secured by one’s potential for rich intimacy in the interplay—the interplay that may be so unique for each of us when we’re together, a capability for deep friendship, the sacred, the romantic, selves formative in interforming, an improvised artistry that is fun. The essence of life is rich fun. Would that I die very, very old in a Flow of it all while having fun.

So goes an art of living. All that we are given, the play, a pursuit of happiness with ever-receding horizon, homemaking as high art, “joyful optimistic realism” (one philosopher says), flourishing our ownmost way, fluorescence even in elderhood.

In a sense, that is the origin of the work of art, fulfilling life, echoing the heart of evolving humanity: an instinct for play, improvisation, assemblage, genesis of values from gardens we conceive, with persistence, resolutely going on.

Maybe that also, way up a road, shows the basis of beauty, the ground of poetry, of all bricolagic creativity far beyond “aesthetics,” some love of self wanting to hold the meaning of all humanity, philosophy as some lasting narrative, some “literary” mind, creative love, conceptual art, the Conversation of humanity sustained by so few Earthlings, as we’re all still evolving, facing the cosmos, once leaving a legacy of glyphs in stone, now words in space.

do you hear me