Sunday, August 31, 2008


We're back in the grind of reading for class. If the stories weren't so full of statistics and jargon they might be more enjoyable! But the beauty of the story is muddied. There was one redeeming chapter, yes one, in the last 315 pages . . . it was worth it though, and worth sharing. 

joy. The love for what they were doing was so clear, all over their faces and through their motions, it just burned off the stage. And joy was what I'd seen in those handful of classes that "worked." Joy was what I'd heard in the laughing, teasing conversations on the Quad and at the Arco station. Joy was the fuel that moved skateboards and horses and pickup trucks. And joy was what was missing from most of Curtisville, and from most of its high school as well. I just didn't have the word before. Few of us do; it's an embarrassing word. We don't even know quite what joy means anymore. Its not the same as happiness, nor pleasure. Joy seems anachronistic and old-fashioned-a blessed state no longer attainable, reduced to a girl's first name along with hope and grace. But joy still lives, even though the word is almost lost to us. 
flow. the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it. We need to be challenged, to struggle, in order to lose ourselves to the intensity of flow; joy seems to come from doing things that are just a little bit beyond us, so that we must concentrate or crash immediately. Flow activities have moment-to-moment feedback that we feel immediately rather than receive later in an evaluation. We can see things happen at our command; we can feel when we're sharp and when we're off. And flow activities are always ends in themselves rather than things undertaken in order to get to something else. They might be useful actions, but if they are it is only a happy coincidence. We might be proud of our achievements, but the pride is only after the fact. The joy lies exactly in the moment of the doing. The aftermath of that joy, regardless of its form, is a more complex person: a self which is more competent, more daring, able to consider more and manage more, a self which is dissatisfied with less. we all can recognize "flow" or "joy" when we see it. When a person has lost self-consciousness and entered into complete concentration on a fraction of the world around, joy is among us. Without joy there is no reason to pursue anything. With joy, the outside standards are meaningless; when we do what we love to do, we keep after it, we always want to know more and do more and keep going. There is no such thing as good enough. 

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