When I was a kid, one of my absolute favorite books was Dr. Seuss’ Sleep Book, and my mom and dad would read it to me often to help me fall asleep. On each page of the book are different fantastical creatures from Dr. Seuss’ mind all sleeping in their various beds, each one more elaborate and strange than the last. The thing that is so comforting about the book, is each creature has their little spot, and they all look so content in that spot. The obvious beneficial effect from the parents’ point of view is that their child also feels content in their little spot, and therefore nods off. Worked like a charm everytime.
There is an incredible sense of contentment in having your spot, in being in your proverbial strange bed that fits you just right. There is also an incredible sense of focus. The idea that nothing beyond that little bed is as important.
This may seem like a jump, but just follow me. My favorite video game series of all time is the Final Fantasy series, and one of the things I love (especially with the older ones) is the villages. In almost all of the games, you encounter some small village out in the woods that has this strange sense of history, and for some reason they don’t freak out when you just walk into their house and open the treasure chest in the corner. But in these little villages is the sense that these people have just been there forever, and they are perfectly content in this little village. Again, the idea that anything outside of that village is not as important. Their village is their strange bed that fits just right.
The older I get, the more I long for life to be the same. I want my perfect bed that fits me just right, or that perfect village where everyone has their place, and I’m so content that what happens outside of the village doesn’t really matter. And the older I get, the less I seem to have that. I guess mainly what I long for is focus. There’s an appealing type of focus in the guy who lives his life running the tiny organic food store, or the barber who’s been there for 40 years, or the gathering of musicians in the movie Once, or the Grinch-ish creature sleeping in his bed on the third floor of a boat that floats in the harbor, or the peasant in the town of South Figaro or Termina (huge extra points for anyone who can name the games those two towns are from. Nerd points, but points nevertheless). While I realize that those last three examples are fictional, I do think (or at least hope) this can be achieved in reality. But it does rely on proximity and routine, and since I’m still getting to know my neighborhood and form a routine, that could be the reason I am still lacking in focus.
Obviously another huge part of this is community. Whenever I visit my good friends from Wild Goose Creative in Columbus, OH, one thing I grow very jealous of is that they have such a focused community. They are all very committed to the same goals and they do spend a lot of time together so it makes sense why this would naturally happen, but even more so I feel a sense that everything they need is right there in their community. I feel such contentment in that.
Could also be that as I spend more and more of my workdays alone, the more and more I crave and need that community. And the more and more I realize how bad I am at being alone. This past Sunday a bunch of people were over at my apartment, and we all had a big meal together (thanks to Libby and Zach) and watched Eddie Izzard, and it was basically what I wish my apartment was all the time. Just all kinds of people coming and going. I realize that would be a nightmare to other people, but that’s just what I would love.
So the first step to getting that focus I talk about I guess would be to bake a bunch of cookies and try to get all of my neighbors to just come hang out all the time. I’ll see what I can do.
And I guess my other point would be that any of you who live in the Chicagoland area should feel free to come over anytime you want.
So perhaps this focus and this contentment is something I’ll never achieve in reality, but being the eternal optimist, I will continue looking for my strange bed and my village regardless.
* Oh, and what did this post have to do with alcohol? Nothing, I guess, I just miss it. But I have not had a drop of it for all of Lent. It’s been good, though I am looking forward to being able to calm down a lot easier after stressful days.
10 thoughts on “On Focus, Contentment, and Alcohol”
I hear ya, man. I also have a pretty good chocolate chip recipe if you want it.
Haha, you got busted for hotlinking. You are an internet criminal.
Check out this beer, I need you to find it somewhere in Chicago for me.
I know what you mean about feeling comfort in having people around all the time. But (and maybe this has to do with different goals/taste), sometimes I want to come home and not have to hear someone talk about techno while playing ti on his computer (knowing full well that I have next to no capacity for appreciation).
And it’s weird to me that you aconnect community with routine. Just cuz I always associate routine with alone-ness. Or perhaps it has to do with an image of self-reliance. I dunno.
Basically I think I need to fix my room so that I can spend more time in it.
Nerd points for me!
South Figaro – FFVI (which was the third one in the states, if I can think back right). I just got done playing the game on am emulator.
And Termina… not nearly as sure, are you refering to Chrono Cross? (the poor follow up to chrono trigger… man back when 16 bit was the bees knees (why did I use that colloquial phrase?)) Don’t ever tell my wife that I still remember these things… she’ll disown me for at least a month.
Josh is the winner! Well done, it was in fact Chrono Cross, which I was like the only person on the planet that really liked. Even own the soundtrack.
What I sense you’re longing for is similar to the appeal of The Shire in the L.O.T.R. There’s a reason the subtitle is “There and Back Again” – and the last words of the trilogy are, “I’m back.”
In RPG video games, as I’m about to win the final battle, I love to go back to the first room I woke up in or talk to the first character I met or the healer who found me on the road, etc., just for old-times sake. It also makes me remember just where I was as I first booted up the game and made my first character, and began to get immersed. For Baldur’s Gate II, my personal fave, it was the parking lot of an F.Y.E. store on Transit Road in Clarence, NY, killing 2 hours until I needed to get to the airport to come home.
It also reminds me of the book “Treason” by Orson Scott Card – In it, long ago, a star-faring empire puts down a scientific revolt and exiles all of the leaders to a prison planet named “Treason” that has virtually no metals: hence, no spacefaring. Centuries go by, and the various leaders form clans that hone their specialities, trading their advanced science for bits of metal in the hopes that they can someday amass enough to get off the planet. The hero is an heir apparent to one of the clans, but is cast out and basically goes on a “Pilgrim’s Progress” where he journeys through all of these other clans, learning each of their sciences. Eventually he practically becomes immortal with supernatural powers – think “Neo”. He rescues the planet from this unhealthy dependency on teleported-in metals and reaches mythic proportions on this world; however, he chooses to live out his days healing people and delivering babies and fixing broken tools and wagon wheels in a little, stoic, amish-like farming clan that was very kind to him when he was on his way up.
The book ends with him describing this as an absolutely fulfilled and complete life.
Maybe we all just need to get around enough to discover where we’re supposed to land.
I know what you mean, even though I’m much more introverted than you are. I’m so much happier now that I live with a roommate and we have our little routines, and invited people over, and our cats. It’s nice.
Call me crazy but to me your “little” website has its own community in which you draw support from friends/family. As out there as it is, why can’t it be your strange bed? Your place to go when you want to feel most like you. It is after all your place where you share your thoughts/feelings with your community. And your community never fails in responding to you. So sleep tight in your strange cyperspace bed. Ok maybe that was way out there and made no sense so if that is the case, I apologize still living on broken sleep here!
Oh and your website also has its own strange history all about you!
I missed this one when you posted it, but want you to know that I identify. I’m not actually keen on routine, which is part of what it sounds like you’re looking for, but I definitely need community, and it’s always a struggle for me to find one. I have close friends, sure, but there’s something that appeals to me about having a group of friends, a circle, that has room for including other folks in it, and being a part of the comings and goings of that community. I usually come to those kind of groups after they’re already well formed, and more people have history than I, as a new “member,” can catch up with.
I do have a group I hang out with fairly regularly in New Haven now, and that’s pleasant, though since we live two towns over, we’re still a little detatched from the center. I suppose my career community is largely online, which is great–and some of those friendships feel as real to me as if I had met these folks in the flesh–but it’s certainly not the same. My social life needs actual human interaction, not just letters on a screen.