Posted in Where Happiness Finds You

This Road

Each Monday morning, my former colleague Eric Nelson up the road at Georgia Southern University posts a poem on the departmental listserv.  I love today’s.  It feels a little “The Road Not Taken”-ish but with a twist of its own.

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What If This Road

— by Sheenagh Pugh

What if this road, that has held no surprises

these many years, decided not to go

home after all; what if it could turn

left or right with no more ado

than a kite-tail? What if its tarry skin

were like a long, supple bolt of cloth,

that is shaken and rolled out, and takes

a new shape from the contours beneath?

And if it chose to lay itself down

in a new way; around a blind corner,

across hills you must climb without knowing

what’s on the other side; who would not hanker

to be going, at all risks? Who wants to know

a story’s end, or where a road will go?

— from What If This Road and Other Poems (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, 2003)

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Posted in College Teaching

The Smile — and Happiness Shared

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The students in my English 123 (Freshman Composition) classes at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) are doing what I call Visual Essays in this, their next-to-the-last week of Fall Quarter 2014.  We read two books this term, Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist and Tal Ben-Shahar’s Happier, both relating to our course theme of “Happiness and the Exploration of Joy.”  The Visual Essay project invites the students to MAKE, rather than write, their papers. Traditional essay requirements are still required: a focus and thesis, structure, detail and support, etc.  But this essay morphs into a drawing or painting, a sculpture, a collage, a video, a food, etc.  Basically this project is a visual representation of one topic narrowed into a clear thesis/perspective/idea.  The challenge: how to “show” their thesis.

Debora Jacob (from Brazil) went to Forsyth Park here in Savannah last Saturday.  Here’s her Visual Essay titled “Happiness Shared” on the topic of the smile and its significance.

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Thanks for the encouragement, Debora.

Let’s all SMILE more often.

 

Posted in Photography 101

Solitude & The Absent Smile

Yes I admit it, I’m an optimist.  Pollyanna’s a very good buddy.  We took tap dancing together.

What I mean is I’m USUALLY a somewhat cheery person.  But not always.  A while back, I underwent a fairly unpleasant medical procedure.  (I’m a big baby when it comes to anything that hurts at a .5 or higher on a 1-10 pain level.)

Here I am in the waiting room, reading about blogging:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally I was called back to the procedure room but had to wait in solitude quite a while.  The doctor was running behind.  I got bored and started playing with the IPhone’s reverse camera capability:

 

 

 

 

 

 

I looked at these pictures, grimaced at their muted and otherworldly haziness, realized I wasn’t smiling–and started to delete them.

Then it hit me.

Get real, Neal.  It’s okay not to smile.  It’s okay to be muted and hazy … and to be by yourself for a while.