100 days of happy and a miscellany

My team at school decided to do “100 days of happy” together. Basically, once a day we take a picture of something that makes us happy and we text it to everyone else. We’re 8 days in, and it has lead me to the conclusion that we are very happy people! Choosing one thing in a day has made me more cognizant of feeling happy, and then seeing 5 other “happies” in the day makes me even happier. It’s a win-win situation. Although, we’re only 8 days in to a 100 day challenge.

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I was looking for Dorothea Lange pictures for literature next year, and I stumbled across this image. Isn’t it lovely? It capture the essence of a summer afternoon (Henry James’s two loveliest words in the English language).

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I’m rereading Agatha Christie’s autobiography, and her mother chastised a little girl who had spoken rudely to the servants. It’s a bit old-fashioned, but anyone who’s been a sales clerk, cashier, waitress, barista, teacher, etc. can identify:

You must always be polite to people whose position forbids them to be rude to you. If you are impolite, they will despise you, and rightly, because you have not acted like a lady.

And lastly, creativity. I’ve always accepted that I am a creative person. My family could tell you stories of my intense defense of this fact. I’m not an artist, but I like to draw and sketch and paint things. The urge to cross-stitch or knit something seizes at least once a year. I decorate and put together outfits. I write here.

A few weeks ago we were walking through the halls of our school and we noticed that the 2nd grade students had painted flowers. These paintings were careful and observant. They were also beautiful. Then we walked upstairs. 5th grade also had art hanging in the hallways, but it was sloppy and juvenile. Their landscape renderings with colored pencils were so much worse than what 7-year-olds had done with watercolors that it was astonishing. My hunch is that somewhere along the line students start over-thinking and decide that they’re not the “creative type.” I think we’re all the creative type. Creating may be what makes us human.

So imagine my delight when I spent yesterday afternoon carefully painting and drawing. The swell of pride when I look at my little columbine borders on the ridiculous. And yet, I made it, and so I feel an inordinate amount of affection for it. Of course it’s not perfect, but I feel that I’ve seen the flower and understand and appreciate its beauty and complexity much more than before. One of my goals for this summer is to sketch and paint at least once a week. This act of observing and creating gives me a peace that I don’t find in any other activity. So I say to you all: “Buy a sketch book! And some paints! Muck around a bit! Look closely at a leaf, petal, squirrel, pine cone! Whatever! It’s so freeing to concentrate intensely for a half hour. Enjoy your summer!”

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2 thoughts on “100 days of happy and a miscellany

  1. I think you kind of seized on the whole drive behind art, which is not the product, but the joy of looking at the subject and studying it. Proud of you!

    1. Thank you! It feels a little egocentric, but I do think you see something better if you try to recreate it. Just like I understand a book much better if I write about it or tell whomever will listen all about it.

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