Daily Archives: January 4, 2010

Contentment Diary

I’ve just watched Elizabeth Gilbert in a webcast event on Facebook, sponsored by Audible.com. This in itself was interesting as broadcast events go. She spoke through a UStream video and answered questions posted for her live on Facebook. This made me wonder if I might invite guests to my classroom in much the same way.

I read Eat, Pray, Love. I plan to read its followup, Committed, set to be released tomorrow. I have mixed feelings about the brand of spirituality represented in EPL. In some ways, I admire it. In other ways, I think it is a little kooky. In some ways, I think Elizabeth Gilbert is a little kooky in that book. Mostly, I have publishing envy. Who couldn’t write a book, I ask myself, with a year off and money for travel?

Still, I appreciated EPL enough to want to read the next part of the story, enough to watch Elizabeth Gilbert in a webcast event. I admire about it that it is a book about someone on a spiritual quest, whatever shape that might take.

I was interested then when Gilbert answered a question tonight about whether she still meditates with no. Not really. She has quiet time set aside each day, lucky her, and she keeps a contentment diary, but she doesn’t meditate per se. Not regularly or deliberately.

Hold on, she keeps a what? A quick Google reveals that contentment diary doesn’t even pop up in the first few hits on a search for contentment diary. There’s hope for this post then if anyone else wondered what the heck that was.

It sounds like Thanksgiving status updates to me. “Today I am thankful for…”

Nice, but deliberate acts of gratitude generally make me want to gag. What’s more they demand unoriginal writing. Everyone in my Facebook feed eventually said they were thankful for family in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, or so it seemed to me. That’s wonderful. I’m really thankful for my family too, but good writing is about cultivating tensions, and contentment writing is presumably about reducing tensions. I’m having a hard time imagining what I might do with it as a writer, though I do see the point of this as a spiritual practice. It must be more difficult to hold onto grudges if you make yourself write about your own contentment every day.

I’m self-confident, though. I think I could do it.

Today has not particularly gone my way. I’ve had muscle spasms in my back all day. I haven’t done anything I promised I would do despite the fact that I sat around looking at what I needed to do and feeling wretched about not tackling it for much of the day. It’s getting colder by the minute outside, and I detest cold. Cold makes my back hurt. I dread going back to work next week. I dread it like a root canal, and I don’t feel obligated to go around saying I’m just thankful I have a job, despite the fact that I do know people who’ve lost their jobs. My attitude is something of a disaster right now.

But I’m wearing a purring cat along with a tacky flannel shirt, a new pair of socks, and some Dearfoam slippers. The cat has been playing with a plastic fish today that I didn’t even know he still had. It’s cold outside, but inside it’s all hot chocolate and popcorn.

I have my share of complaints about the way the world and the people in it operate, but I don’t have to bother making them because online there is an auto complaint generator.

This is what it said when I asked it to complain about me:

Based on Sharon Gerald’s response to my previous letter, I believe it’s safe to say that Gerald’s mentality reminds me of the stereotypical bureaucrat who cannot function unless he can “find it in the manual”. I begin with critical semantic clarifications. First, Gerald is an interesting character. On the one hand, she likes to devise insensitive scams to get money for nothing. But on the other hand, she demands that we make a choice. Either we let her take control of a nation and suck it dry or she’ll toy with our opinions. This “choice” exemplifies what is commonly known as a “false dichotomy” or “the fallacy of the excluded middle” because it denies other alternatives, such as that Gerald is trying to initiate a reign of cruel terror. Her mission? To craft propaganda that justifies breaking down our communities. A final word: It is undeniable by anyone but morally repugnant, domineering blackguards that Sharon Gerald should stop lying about how she can scare us by using big words like “extraterritoriality”.

There. I do sort of feel more content.

Published: January 4, 2010 | Comments: 0