The Shape of Ordinary Happiness
Ann nudged me on the plane coming into O’hare, handing me the Wall Street Journal she’d picked up. “Read this” she said, knowing I’d resonate with the theme of Willard Spiegelman’s new book, Seven Pleasures: Essays On Ordinary Happiness. The review by Wes Davis tells us…
The author’s aim is to show that “an intelligent thoughtful happiness is possible.”
“He looks at everything around him with a careful reader’s interpretive style of perception, and he carries a reader’s bundle of vicarious memories into every experience, likening what he sees to scenes from books he has read.
…To the extent that he has a secret to happiness, it resides in slowing down enough to pay attention to what you might call the grammar of experience. When you take the time to examine the world around you, parsing what you see, hear and feel, Mr. Spiegelman likens the approach to the parsing of a sentence in Latin class, you find that the plainest occurrence is surprisingly rich.”
My sentences come from nature and from the sensations and experience remembered through my photographs rather than from scenes or characters in books. I haven’t set out to isolate the pursuit of this kind of pleasure overtly but rather to let it seep into the natural history and simple stories of the not-so-simple rural life we live here. Even so, my claim is the same–that, as I said in the author’s note to Slow Road Home:
“There are wonders all around. From our everyday lives, these familiar things may seem unremarkable to us. But in these precious instants in time, if we keep our eyes open and our hearts ready to know it, there is nothing ordinary.”
I think that same sense of celebration in the small and close at hand, the joy we might find in the unadorned and quiet moments of our own present places and times will become evident as you finish reading What We Hold In Our Hands: a Slow Road Reader. At least that is my hope.
Books arrive tomorrow. (I got a single copy of it yesterday!) I look forward to knowing that its message will reach some of you–both physically with the book in your hands and with regard to the mild bump in “ordinary happiness” it might nurture in a readers’ life. Life is short; get your copy soon!