Beware, major rant below.
(dress/hat/scarf: thrifted; coat: h&m; boots: seychelles)
Last night I watched "Happy" a documentary about (you guessed it) happiness. The movie basically confirmed everything that I already believed about what is necessary for a happy life: a close community of friends and family (connectedness with others), physical activity and meditation (control of body and mind, connectedness with self), and new experiences or adventures and moments alone in nature (connectedness with environment and the world). Money plays almost no part in overall happiness--it can make you more comfortable, less stressed, but those stresses are self-imposed based on want (not need). With the rash of terrorist attacks within our own country lately, I've been on a bit of a soapbox, preaching to my friends and anyone who will listen that our society is completely coming apart at the seams because we are drifting further and further from the close-knit person-to-person communities of the past and losing ourselves in social media, which can create an illusion of connectedness that is just that--an illusion. I believe this is one of the most important issues in our country today.
I've never believed in organized religion and I think that so often today it is corrupted and turned into ugliness, but I do believe that the idea of a community gathering together every Sunday (or Saturday, or whatever holy day you choose) is so important. I also really like the idea of the Sabbath or Shabbat--one day out of every week for people to rest and reflect without interference from the various technologies that dominate our daily lives (cell phones, televisions, cars), and to come together with friends and family at the end of the day to cook and drink wine and eat a delicious meal. I have this dream that someday, when I move into a small town (hopefully as great as the one I grew up in, and close to family and friends), I will buy a town building and turn it into a community gathering place for weekly (or at least monthly) dinners, showing of important films, playing of music, displaying or making of art, dancing, maybe organized discussions or talks about issues important to the community and the world or general topics of interest... anything and everything you can imagine! If every small town in America had one of these centers--a "church" of sorts that was welcoming to everyone--I think there would be a lot less loneliness and stress and depression in these parts.
As I get older, I become more and more introverted. I work all day and really value my "alone time," where I can do what I want when I want without having to compromise. I like to read, and take solitary walks, and shop by myself, and sit in coffeeshops just to observe and scribble in my journal and sort through the thoughts that build up in my mind over the course of weeks and months and years. But the lively discussions I have with friends and family are invaluable. There have been times in my life when I can tell that I am getting too far inside my own head, becoming more and more self-absorbed, believing evermore fervently in the rightness of my own radical ideas, and I need my friends for balance. I need them to offer alternate ways of looking at the world. I need them to push me to be better, to take my passions and play them, instead of holding them close to my chest. No matter how much I may drag my feet, I rarely regret venturing out into the world and spending time with other people. But there does need to be a balance. We also need to know how to think for ourselves, to reflect on the neverending bombardment of information, to distinguish fact from fabrication, to understand what we feel and why and to adjust accordingly.
Wow, okay. So that was maybe a lot for a Wednesday. Here's the thing: Be happy. Get out in the world. Unplug. Simplify. Grow your own food and share it. That is the world I want to live in. That is the world we need. Also: wear hats. :)