Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Commonplace, Robbins -- A Propos My Not-So-Secret Valentine

Perhaps a person gains by accumulating obstacles. The more obstacles set up to prevent happiness from appearing, the greater the shock when it does appear, just as the rebound of a spring will be all the more powerful the greater the pressure that has been exerted to compress it. Care must be taken, however, to select large obstacles, for only those of sufficient scope and scale have the capacity to to lift us out of context and force life to appear in an entirely new and unexpected light. For example, should you litter the floor and tabletops of your room with small objects, they constitute little more than a nuisance, an inconvenient clutter that frustrates you and leaves you irritable: the petty is mean. Cursing, you step around the objects, pick them up, knock them aside. Should you, on the other hand, encounter in your room a nine-thousand-pound granite boulder, the surprise it evokes, the extreme steps that must be taken to deal with it, compel you to see with new eyes. And if the boulder is more special, if it has been painted or carved in some mysterious way, you may find that it possesses an extraordinary and supernatural presence that enchants you, and in coping with it -- as it blocks your path to the bathroom -- leaves you feeling extraordinary and supernatural, too. Difficulties illuminate existence, but they must be fresh and of high quality.

--Tom Robbins, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (Bantam 1990, orig. 1976)

So here's to fresh, high-quality problems, the extreme steps dealing with them requires, and the frayed but still worthy solutions they bear in their fang'd jaws. Salut!

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