8 July 2007

A metafeeling is a feeling about a feeling.  It’s the way you feel about the way you feel.  It is possible to feel sad, and feel OK about feeling sad.  It’s possible to feel joyous, and experience guilt about your joy.

You can feel ashamed of your tears.  You can feel embarrassed as easily about dancing* with abandon as about an angry outburst.  In fact, we live in a culture where the expression of any feelings outside a narrow range of intensity makes others uncomfortable.

When I receive shocking, horrible news, convention will influence me to accept reality stoically.  But how much more courageous would I have to be to express my full horror and my grief, then to accept all my emotions and even my intemperate behaviors!  The imperative to moderate our joy is yet heavier than the pressure to control our grief.  What could be more threatening to the orderly function of society than ecstasy?

The censorship of our emotions is an oppressive force, but how much more oppressive is self-censorship! 

Emotions are a deep part of being alive, and I want to feel as fully as I am able.  To that end, I want to ‘metafeel’ that whatever I’m feeling, it’s OK.  It’s not evil to feel this way.  It’s not going to brand me as whiney or pompous or needy or uncaring that I express this feeling.  This is the way I feel, and I will allow myself to feel this way.§

There is no growth without acceptance.  We begin to move when we acknowledge the present from whence we are emerging.

– Josh Mitteldorf


* I haven’t yet read Barbara Ehrenreich’s new book but I suspect that she touches on these themes.

§ It goes without saying that responsible behavior toward others must always be observed.  Even as I allow myself free expression of emotion, I must monitor the effects of my actions on those around me.  This requires drawing a wise and mature distinction between expressions that make others uncomfortable and actions or utterances that are hurtful. 

7 July 2007

“One of the sanest, surest, and most generous joys of life comes from being happy over the good fortune of others.”

Robert Heinlein would have been 100 years old today, had he lived to see the future

In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it.

6 July 2007

This is the music that is making me happy today.  Brahms is reliably deep, often poignant, sometimes tortured...but only in a handful of compositions is he ebullient.  There is nothing lost of complexity in this music even as it overflows with joy, grounded in a deep sense of wellbeing.

Finale of String Sextet Op 36, as arranged by Kirchner for piano trio

5 July 2007

“Marriage is not a love affair. A love affair is a totally different thing. A marriage is a commitment to that which you are. That person is literally your other half. And you and the other are one. A love affair isn’t that. That is a relationship of pleasure, and when it gets to be unpleasurable , it’s off. But a marriage is a life commitment, and a life commitment means the prime concern of your life. If marriage is not the prime concern, you are not married.”

Joseph Campbell


Think of the monk’s vows, the commitment to daily prayer or meditation, the practice of yoga, vows of poverty and celibacy... Marriage is the single greatest impetus to personal growth that any person may embrace.

– Josh Mitteldorf

4 July 2007

“The highest patriotism is not a blind acceptance of official policy, but a love of one’s country deep enough to call her to a higher plain”

George McGovern


3 July 2007

I asked the birds
who sing at night
where they learned their songs,
and what they sang about.
They said, “We learn from
birds who sing by day,
but what we sing about
is hard for us to say.”
“Only those with beak
and wing can fathom joy
in dark and doubt.
The sky may turn to evening
and the sun to moon,
but we sing
of what you do not speak —
how night is sometimes noon,
how any season of the soul
can, with time, be coaxed to spring.”

~ Jean Burden ~

2 July 2007

“There is no reality except the one contained within us. That’s why so many people live an unreal life. They take images outside them for reality and never allow the world within them to assert itself.”

Herman Hesse, born this day in 1877