Posts Tagged ‘pleasure’

Happy People Don’t Write…Or Do They?

June 5, 2013

I find that when things are going well—when I’m happy—I don’t have the urge to write. Or perhaps it simply slides down or off the list of things I “really want to do.” When my two-year-grandson is with us, the sunshine, the sheer unabated joy of life he experiences, and even the intensity of the pains he feels, totally consume my thoughts, and I want to shut out everything else just to experience it. Writing a blogpost is the last thing on my mind.

I got some insight into this thru some sales training I’m taking (Sandler, for the record). It seems that, in statistical studies, people are motivated by a 2:1 factor by pain over other motivators. In other words, people buy to avoid pain at least twice as frequently as they do to satisfy any other need—pleasure, achieving a benefit, security, etc. And that seems to be human nature. It is the basis for most of the advertising media—create dissatisfaction, and people will buy.

So—I’m happy, therefore I don’t write. Simple.

Or is it? Yes, people are far less willing to buy into Pollyannaish stories than into Peyton Place, but still, there are genuinely happy stories to tell. Oftentimes, they are stories of overcoming some great pain—stories of courage, heroism, etc. Most of us really do like happy endings. But the key is in that phrase—“ending”—implying that there was an unhappier beginning, or middle. Every good story introduces conflict to move the plot.

So do happy people write? Sure they do. Maybe they just don’t get the publicity or the buy-in from people whose opinions seem to matter, but they do write. They may even be writing in private journals, pearls they hide away to keep them from being trampled on. Motivations for writing (or any creative art, for that matter) are as multitudinous as motivations for living, for relationships, or for being in business.

I write because I can. I write because it expresses me, it re-creates me, it grows me, it takes me places I’ve never been, and gives me thoughts I never had (this is one of them, in fact), and opens horizons of mind and relationship that would not have been there before. Writing is the vehicle to take me on a tour, around the world in 80 years—hey, I’m 75% there already. But I want the remaining 25% to eclipse the rest, just as the past year with my grandson has eclipsed the 59 that went before. I can’t explain it, but I can enjoy it.

And I can write about it, and maybe help someone else find their way into that joy.

Advertisements

“A Rock Feels No Pain…” BUT

February 3, 2013

I woke early this morning with the final lines of old Simon & Garfunkel song “I Am A Rock” playing in my mind—the part they play slowly at the end: “…and a rock feels no pain, and an island never cries”—an appealing thought to many in our society, especially when the pain has been great, and the tears many.

Still, not feeling pain can be a bad thing, as lepers and paralytics know—it can lead to physical damage to body parts that fail to respond to stimuli, and can result in infections, sickness, even gangrene and death. (I know this personally from the death of my first wife, but that’s another story for another time.) And never crying can lead to psychological constipation and emotionally stunted growth, and who knows what else. Pain and trauma internalized can be tragic.

But even more tragic are the things that are missed. A rock never gives birth to a child, an idea, or a business. A rock never experiences the pleasures of life or the blessings that pain can sometimes bring. An island cannot cry tears of joy either. A rock never moves or grows or changes. An island doesn’t multiply, or grow families, or have dinner with anyone.

I don’t want to be a rock, eroding slowly, almost eternally, only becoming sand after eons. Not for me the eternal life of the Cumaean Sybil, who forgot to ask for eternal youth, shriveling up until eventually she was placed into a jar.

I want to live and breathe and laugh and cry. I want to feel pain enough to know what true joy is. And one day I want to die gloriously, even if it’s in my sleep. Meanwhile, I want to know people to the fullest—even those who fail me, intentionally or not.

And if I am not remembered in a hundred years, what I have done that is good will still live on in the lives of those who followed, and those whom they blessed and carried on.

I love stories of people who find encouragement in some of the bleakest circumstances, who take lemons and make lemonade—and then set up a stand and sell it, or even give it away. Aron Ralston, who spent 127 hours with his arm trapped by an 800-pound boulder, and who had to cut it off to escape. The rugby players who endured 72 days in the Andes and had to resort to cannibalism to survive. Corrie ten Boom’s sister Betsie, who, in the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp, was able to be thankful for fleas—simply because it meant it kept the guards out, and allowed them to pray, and sing, and fellowship, and to be safe for a moment. She died before getting out—but Corrie lived to tell. The stories like those in Ben Sherwood’s book The Survivors’ Club. Victor Frankl’s story in Man’s Search for Meaning. Bill Strickland’s Making the Impossible Possible. The list goes on and on. I love rambling through the archives in the caverns of my mind.

Life is good. All of life. Somehow. Some way. I know there is a lot of bad—but life IS good! And feeling—and feelings—help make it so. I’m not a rock—thankfully. To re-paint Descartes, “I feel, therefore I am.”

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.

–James 1:2,12 in THE MESSAGE [Peterson]