21 August 2008

pollyanism and the glad game

Occasionally I read over what I have been writing here and wonder whether I’ve been writing a load of tosh. I put the variable quality down to the fact that I’m still not quite sure what I am trying to say, that and not being a good proof reader. I’m not sure whether I’ve found that elusive “voice” that we are all supposed to have (and therein lies another story). Although I spend a good deal of my day writing at work, there my style is constrained by the purpose, conveying information not feelings. I’m not even quite sure what the purpose of writing here is. Is it for me? Or is it for you?



There is, however, one thing I have detected running through most of these posts and that is a certain pollyannaism, a “thought for the day” quality, a playing of the glad game. Why is this? Am I preaching? Is it because I just want to hide deeper darker thoughts? Or am I an innately sunny, optimist?



I’ve been thinking this over. There are probably a number of reasons but one is that I’m spending more time observing what is going on around me and finding small things, not so much hidden from sight, but previously hidden from my consciousness. Things that I would have noticed only fleetingly are making a greater impression on me – and of course some of these images are caught, snapped and so go deeper still.



I’m also on the lookout for things too, I suppose. Images from my daily journeys that show that life here is not some manic, uncaring frenzy (or not all the time), that you can find a slower, greener, gentler space if that’s what you want. What’s more these spaces aren’t that hard to find: small pockets of land that have reverted to nature, however shortlived, the allotment, city farms, trees, market stalls, tea and cakes, sounds, silence, public spaces, home.



I could go on. But the fact is that those Pollyanna tendencies keep surfacing and, much to my surprise, are making me feel happier. I got hold of economist Richard Layard's book on happiness from the library to see what he had to say. He concludes with a manifesto for public policy to increase happiness and at the heart of it is the principle that happiness depends as much on your inner life as on your circumstances, that it comes from outside and within.



So everyday I spend a little time thinking about what I am going to write or photograph and I suddenly I find myself smiling. I seem to be calmer and at the same time energised. There are a hundred things I want to capture, see and do, not ambitious sailing round the world type things, but small journeys, bike rides, bus rides, train rides; learning or reviving skills; discovering books to read, taking pleasure in what’s going on close by and with the bonus of coming home at the end of the day.



At least that’s how I feel most days.


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