art generosity happiness humor nature wisdom

day 71, laugh with the kookaburra!

One good thing about this pandemic is the creativity released around the world, when people have had time to do… well, whatever. People I know have been baking and planting gardens. Others have been making music. I’ve been sewing. But the best creation I’ve seen yet came to light today thanks to the New York Times  article about the giant laughing kookaburra created in Brisbane, Australia by Dr. Farvardin Daliri.

I love Dr. Daliri’s thoughts on creativity: “My way of art is to worship what’s in front of me and appreciate with gratitude.” Noticing how people were growing depressed and anxious as the pandemic took hold, he says, “I think this is a time we need to reach out to each other. We may not meet all the requirements of people’s material happiness, but spiritually we can make them happy.”  The article ends by noting that the kookaburra’s laugh is so infectious that it encourages real birds to join in.  Check out the video; you will laugh too!

I’m smiling still…  Thank you, Dr. Farvardin Daliri. You are making the world a better place, one smile at a time.

yesterday’s face mask production, fyi:

Face masks made on May 28 2020 for No Seattle College 7

Uncategorized work

day 41: restlessness or satiation? the paradox of overly empty


Today’s news is full of articles about Americans being restless, itchy, aching for something to do. But are we restless or overly well rested? Satiated seems more accurate  (at least for those of us lucky enough to be considered “non-essential”). We are overly well rested! Just like when you sleep too much and wake up feeling kind of gross or disgusted with yourself, our days are overly empty. Life has taken on a boring kind of dullness because we do not have enough to do or think to change the blah-ness.

I won’t bore you with all the definitions of rest, restless and satiated (although they are fascinating!), I’ll just provide the one item that seems most relevant. It is the last definition under the verb satiate, the phenomenon known as satiation.

“PSYCHOLOGY: the point at which satisfaction of a need, or familiarity with a stimulus, reduces or ends an organism’s responsiveness or motivation.”*

I’ve tried all kinds of tricks to keep myself motivated: the house is cluttered with lists and calendars, as I’ve tracked my daily walks, daily exercises, and face mask orders to do. But even the most self-directed person can become satiated by the busy-ness of work and action, in the absence of … what exactly?

No answers here, so I’ll sign off for today.

fyi: the photo of yesterday’s mask production

Face masks produced on April 28 2020

*Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, vol. 2, p. 2673.

English literature happiness work

day 40, on happiness “by the way” (John Stuart Mill)

Searching longer than usual for something inspiring to think about this morning, I dug into one of my old journals from when I was a professor, in “South Bend and sometimes Paris, April 6, 2011 to July 4, 2014”. Exhausting! So many classes to teach, student papers to grade, research to do, papers to write (and get accepted or get rejected and rewrite, etc.), trips to take, alongside all the family issues to confront or ignore or complain about, and don’t get me started on other people and their problems! But the back flap reminded me of why I did so much, why I’m always so wrapped up in life and ideas and stuff going on. And now creating face masks for strangers, day in day out, as if my life depended on it.

It’s from John Stuart Mill, Autobiography*:

“Those only are happy who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness: on the happiness of others, on the improvement of mankind, even on some art or pursuit, followed not as a means but as itself an ideal end. Aiming thus at something else, they find happiness by the way.”

I like the idea of happiness “by the way”.

By the way, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, means” (a) during a journey, on the way; (b) incidentally, in passing, as a side-topic or casual remark” (vol. 2, p. 3597).

This we need to remember: That good feeling? It’s short-lived, ephemeral, fleeting. It’s incidental not central. You find it on the way, and then you both pass by. Might as well get back to work.

Btw: On this, day 40, we now know what a true quarantine feels like. Une quarantaine de jours s’est passée. I guess that’s some kind of achievement. “40 days and 40 nights.” Watched all of “Veep” and now just started a very cool Japanese series called “Giri/Haji” (Japanese for “Duty/Shame”). The hero, a detective played by Takehiro Hira, is soooooo cool: it’s like watching a cat–watchful, neat, and extremely intelligent–as he carefully makes his way through an extremely difficult life.

Yay us!



John Stuart Mill, Autobiography, Chapter 5: “A Crisis in My Mental History. One Stage Onward”: found here:


Yesterday’s mask production, fyi:

face masks made on April 27 2020