Category Archives: Opinion

Hunger For Happiness

                                       A Hunger For Happiness?
                                              An Gorta Mór
                                         “The Great Hunger”

The experience of happiness means different things to different people and cultures.  This past year I’ve worked on two separate projects; one addressing hunger, the other happiness. They’re intrinsically enmeshed one to the other.  I’d only intellectually grasped how much so before this year of deep inquiry.

Clearly, if one has an empty bowl, an empty belly, if our children are hungry, then our primary concern is to find nourishment followed closely by seeking shelter.  An Gorta Mór comes from the Gaelic; meaning Great Hunger.  The Irish used that term to describe the potato famine of the early 19th century, when a blight on the one crop that provided the most calories for that impoverished country, failed for a series of years.  A million people starved.  A million more found passage to America in the pursuit of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Let’s say, for a delusional moment, that we could suspend the notion that hunger is not an issue in America.  This is the country where millions of families have come from somewhere else seeking opportunities in the land of the free and the home of the brave.  If we’ve been able to quell the hunger in our belly, only then can we begin to wonder how to satisfy our extended hunger for a sense of overall prosperity.  Even in the midst of our struggle for survival, An Gorta Mór cries out in our bewildered search for meaning, for love and belonging, acceptance and appreciation, recognition and respect.  The hunger becomes enmeshed in what The Happiness Initiative Project (HIPinthe253) yearns to address, advance and advocate:  A new paradigm, a restructured economy based on the measurement of well~being as experienced within the collective community.  (see: Measuring Happiness)

I’ve never experienced true physical hunger, so I’ve had the luxury of An Gorta Mór for an economy of well~being that supports each one to be seen and heard, honored and counted, to matter.  Have you taken the Survey?  (see: Take The Survey).  Does your score measure your innate hunger to create and express?  How about to find meaning and connection within your own community?  How about contentment and satisfaction with the way things are where you live?  Co-founder of HIPinthe253, Ana Maria Sierra and I, often discuss the chasm between our ‘imagined’ life and the one we’re living day to day here in the 253.  This awareness of what is and what could be fuels my deep yearning to promote The Happiness Initiative Project here in Tacoma/Pierce County and beyond.

Now that I have learned how vast is the need within our community for emergency food distribution, how the growing numbers of people in my community live with daily/weekly food insecurity and scarcity, my resolve is ever more keen.  We must do what we can where we can.  To the further understanding and correction of the enmeshment of hunger to happiness, I devote myself.

My Writes

My Writes

“…whatchu know ‘bout my writes?

Whatchu  know ‘bout what’s weak, what’s tight…?”

My Writes from Art Official Intelligence….de la Soul

This is about writing.  I found some old journals.  One from 2001, the other from 2003.  I read them last night and had no qualms whatsoever about tossing them in the trash.  They were written in really lovely books that I probably purchased from T.J. Maxx, but that didn’t’ make them any more palatable. And  I learned something:  When I’ve journaled, it’s only for the angst. Months of happiness go by undocumented, a couple days of despair all sound the same and get recorded like a stutter. Those journals could have been written in 1971, 1981 or 1991…the general theme is always the same, first and foremost pitiful, then optimistic.  The nature of my nature.  First comes the whining, then the inevitable talking myself out of it.  I will never journal again. I write for pleasure now.

I think I actually do love to write.  But I may not have the nature of a true writer.  I’m probably a little too hyper-action oriented with too vast an array of other interests.  I’ve read that writers, by nature, are obsessed with writing. The isolating concept of tapping away on my computer for hours or days, the constant thinking about things to write about, agonizing about how to write them, despairing about how they were written, taking notes of new ideas and sticking them someplace I can find them, living in a waking-life where everything becomes a storyline, even recording crap about things on a walk…I do as well.  I just won’t do it consistently, the way I’ve read that writers must, to actualize their craft.

I have a friend who actually writes for a living.  He says that real writers, are obsessive word geeks, neurotic, narcissistic, who can think only of writing, agonize over writing or not being able to write, are afraid that even if they are consistently writing, they may not be able to do it tomorrow and I’ve met other writers, as well, who seem to adhere to this model.  They’re weird like that, I’m not.  But I really like to write, and when I feel like it, I like to spew.  I don’t really care if anyone else enjoys, can tolerate, or appreciates my spew, although I admit to liking it a lot when someone does.  If I feel like it, I do it and will keep doing it until I don’t feel like it.  Then I stop doing it and do something more interesting.

But I’m writing right now, aren’t I?  And I’m thinking ‘bout My Writes, in a very self-absorbed way, just like a professional writer might.  I have a lot on my mind.  And now that some people know I am writing, like seriously for fun, they are suggesting things I could write about next.  I have my own huge list already.  It’s doubtful I will live long enough to expound upon all the funny and fascinating vignettes and stories and recollections I have salvaged from my day to day.  They elicit a grin just thinking about how rich and interesting every minute continues to be.  But what actually captures my attention, slams my butt into the chair and fingers onto the keyboard to spew, is not something I can usually decide.  It decides itself and then spews of it’s own accord.  I merely become my own editor then.  I have forced discipline, created deadlines, and I found that I can actually do that, but it isn’t the same pleasure of a creative burst.  It can feel more like doing taxes.  I’ll do it though, because writers are supposed to if they are serious and I am seriously interested in having fun writing and becoming a better writer.  My literary hero, Tom Robbins, when asked if he ever gets ‘writer’s block’, shared that he gets up every morning prepared to write.  His muse knows where to find him.  If She doesn’t show, he heads out for a coffee.  I like that.  I can resonate with that.  At this moment I’m focused on what’s weak, what’s tight.

“…we’re flat out classic…separate the real from the plastic…”

FaceBook is an example of both.  That dandy social utility is designed for spewing.  Coffee in the morning, at the FB Café, is just for the pure pleasure of the spew for me.  It’s a spew outlet mall for millions. Witness and celebrate the change mongering, info-sharing, wiki-leak-like transparency and revolutions fueled by The Mighty FB!  Now, I am aware that some of my fellow voyeurs actually read the shit I post, but most ignore it or hide it, and some have even flat out ‘Un-Friended’ me, whereas I tend to be lenient with the spew of others on FaceBook.  If I’m not interested, I scroll on by.  But often I am interested and not only because I am easily entertained.  I have learned a lot from other’s posts. ‘Un-Friending’ seems minimally reactionary, drastic, and radically intolerant, a big unfriendly what-ev.  I don’t really care.  I utilize the utility for my passionate ideological spews.  I do it because I can and I have the right to My Writes.  It’s a true virtual democracy.  Everyone can spew their two cents of graffiti on the wall if they feel like it.  I was once told that because of my tendency to spew my personal bias, I have lost credibility.  Isn’t that hilarious?  With whom?  I answer to myself.  What anyone else thinks is their own business and bias.  That’s the freedom we’re fighting for, that’s the social justice we’re trying to preserve, That’s the freedom to think and express that the oppressed world thirsts for.

“…and I don’t gotta name no names, play no games…

fuck it all up,  take the blame…”

My Writes are my own pleasure.  If other’s enjoy or benefit from them, I’ll pat my own back.  If not, I’ll take the heat.  An idea, once it grabs a passionate hold in my mind, will likely find it’s way out.  I’m just exercising My Writes.  And I now consider myself a writer, my nature adapting to the call, whether I am received or not, because I am writing.  And I won’t stop.

(this spew is starting to sound a lot like a stream of consciousness blog…like maybe The Rumpus.  I admire Stephen Elliott for his unedited deeply personal daily spew.  He recently posted that someone had asked W.H. Auden, “Is it true that you can write only what you know?”  And Auden said, “Yes it is.  But you don’t know what you know until you write it.”  Then Stephen added, “Writing is a process of discovery of what you really do know.  You can’t limit yourself in advance to what you know, because you don’t know everything you know.”  He is a writer and definitely weird, for sure.  But I’m not.)

de la Soul/My Writes:

Letting Go

Letting Go

When you absolutely have to let go, can you?  In your life, what or who is the most difficult to release?   For me, letting go of someone I have loved is impossible.  I won’t do it.  If I have loved you, I always will.  Letting go in this sense, then, becomes more of a concept, releasing the idea of expectations.  It’s a tricky balance to hold steady when an expectation is not met.  Much stickier when it involves a person, murkier still, when I have cared deeply.

Letting go of a dream or a strongly felt want or need for a particular outcome that cannot be met is necessary for my inner peace and ability to move forward.  Tyranny is another word I use for expectation.  Every expectation exerts it’s own pressure on me to let it go, to constantly allow and accept what is…to be.

It’s not that I think anyone or anything needs to live up to my expectations of them or worse for them, and herein lies the rub; constantly letting go is a double edged sword. It requires compassion not only extended outward but maybe more importantly… drawn inward. My unmet expectations for myself are a personal tyranny. When I don’t expect something or someone or myself to live up to my subjective expectation, and they/I do, it’s a sweet surprise. When it or they or I don’t, it’s hard not to care deeply  because the tension that arises from expecting something either favorable or not, is the stuff of emotion.  I feel deeply.  All this is hard labor for me.

Yet, each moment I can choose to live my life in the present so that I am not mourning unmet expectations from the dead past nor creating tension and anxiety with expectations projected into the imagined future.  I have that choice if I can just remember.  I can do this, but I am undisciplined.  Discipline is a tyrannical expectation I have for myself that elicits angst and longing and often disappointment.

Letting go with compassion sounds simple and easy, doesn’t it?  But is it? Simple and easy are not the same thing.  Accepting life as it is has become, for me, a compassionate choice.  I accept and I still care deeply. It’s a concept and it is also an action I seek to embrace that is becoming easier each day I simply live and love on this planet.   How does Letting Go work for you?   Blessed Be.