Monday, April 9, 2012

Yeats, Perfection of the Life or of the Work, Happiness, and Play

Being already 4 days behind on my National Poetry Month poem-a-day Challenge (today is the 9th, I've got 4 poems finished and 2 half poems), a week behind on my book a week New Year's resolution, a month behind at work, and a lifetime behind on my become a famous writer life goal, I've been doing a lot of thinking about Yeats lately.
The Choice
The intellect of man is forced to choose
perfection of the life, or of the work,
And if it take the second must refuse
A heavenly mansion, raging in the dark.
When all that story's finished, what's the news?
In luck or out the toil has left its mark:
That old perplexity an empty purse,
Or the day's vanity, the night's remorse. 
 I don't spend much time raging these days. Is it harder to write when my life is in a good place, or is that an excuse I make for myself when I don't have to spend all my time alone with my thoughts? Before Carol and I moved in together I was writing a blog post or two every day, reading a lot and writing plenty of poetry. Not that I mind, but she's a bit of a distraction.

There was a great article in the NYTimes Magazine yesterday about "silly" games (the kind of endless games like Tetris or Angry Birds that can't really be won, demand little skill or creativity, but that absorb a huge chunk of our mental energy). My takeaway was this:
In her book “Reality Is Broken,” Jane McGonigal argues that play is possibly the best, healthiest, most productive activity a human can undertake — a gateway to our ideal psychological state. Games aren’t an escape from reality, McGonigal contends, they are an optimal form of engaging it.
Now, I recognize that I have a limited amount of mental space each day. Every minute I spend playing Pandemic with my wife (or working on my blog post about how addicted we are to Pandemic, stay tuned for that!) is one less minute I have available for poetry. But what would I do differently? I'd change very little right now, just hoping that (like Randall and Dante in Clerks and Clerks II) the non-productive times in my life are really just building towards something.

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