Sustainable happiness, parenting, and art

Jeremy from Daddy Dialectic says a complicated thing very well on the othermag blog in Going with the Flow – That there are different kinds of happiness. Sometimes as an artist/poet/writer I go for maximizing my amount of direct “flow” or experential happiness, and I think that’s important – but the overall “interdependence, right life” kind of happiness is much more my priority, as a parent and as an adult human being.

I think it’s hugely important to be able to have the ecstatic and creative experiences of “flow” – But not at the expense of everything else in life –

And the difficulty, complexities, sadnesses, quality of endurance, or loss of the childhood ability to slip in and out of “flow” — and the admiring of its existence in one’s child – is a huge, huge part of what mommyblogging or parentblogging is all about. That is why, to non-parents, a lot of what we write about looks like bitching, or unappreciativeness — but actually, noting or even celebrating the difficulties of patience, the day to day annoyances of parenting, are very important to noticing what is important about the happiness of doing that.

In the comments on Jeremy’s post I mentioned Suzette Haden Elgin’s posts on eldering and patience, and I mention them again here because they relate & they gave me food for thought.

AND THEN GO OUT AND HAVE A DRINK, okay? Or go to some unimaginably sleazy party or hold hands in the sunset with your hot new lover or paint an oil painting for 5 hours straight or whatever floats your boat.

What I mean is you can’t structure your life around maximizing the moments of personal flow, without risking it becoming a bit isolating and hollow, in the long term. You don’t have to have children to achieve non-isolation, nor should you have them just to teach yourself a lesson, obviously… but if you have them already, then it helps to think about it this way.

AND… I mean to say that when those moments of flow and of sheer experential happiness DO happen to me… I take them as an incredibly precious gift and I fucking treasure them and hold them in my mind like amazing jewels and they refresh and sustain me constantly. I write about them, they bust out of me in poems, I stick them on pedestals in my palace of memory. They’re ephemeral & we struggle (I do) as artists to give them permanence. But they are not the point, in a way, are they? In that, I think I agree with Jeremy.

Meanwhile, while I’m linking up to people today, give SJ on I, Asshole a read, and just go as far back into her archives as you have time for, because her brain and her universe are so refreshing, cool, witty, snarky, fucked up… AND LO… my soul was HEALED! by the power of I, Asshole!

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2 Responses to Sustainable happiness, parenting, and art

  1. kokopelliwoman says:

    Great post. I think having a kid does help one appreciate flow even more. And I believe we go in and out of different kinds of flow with a kiddo around. We catch and appreciate any moment of flow, compared to the ho-hum, you-have-no-idea-how-grateful-you-should-be, non-parenting flow that happens frequently, uninterrupted by kiddo asking for juice, or whatever. Art grows out of anything, everything, and sometimes just getting through a day is dazzlingly happy-making. I love your new blog look! Liz, I'm glad you're breakfasting at La Manitas, b/c they're getting ready to tear it down, along with the one and ONLY immersive Spanish-speaking pre-school in the Austin area. Treasure each morsel, and partake of the sadness of putting adult greed ahead of children's lives. Yuck. But it will be great to see you 🙂

  2. Alex R. says:

    I may not be a parent but I am an uncle! And as much as I could grip about this or niece and nephew are the coolest and i would do anything for them.