This has been just about as perfect a first week of class as I’ve ever enjoyed, with enthusiastic students, mild weather, and a convivial revival of the post-Happiness Happy Hour tradition at the Boulevard last night. We were all peripatetic, no one was pathetic, all is copacetic. Everyone in Happy Class seems already to get the crucial point of presence, of being fully awake and alive to the moment at hand. We all seem happy to be here this week, and happy to keep on walking. Happy but not sappy, with nuanced views of the backdrop of cruelty and suffering that honest happiness cannot ignore or explain away. When I asked students to react to old Schopenhauer’s repudiation of our subject, the responses were thoughtful, balanced, and wise.
Athletes speak of “staying within themselves,” which I interpret to mean something like presence in motion and a disciplined commitment to training. For a peripatetic philosopher that translates into a series of measured steps, establishing a reliable rhythm of corporeal movement that the mind naturally falls in with, making thought and forthright conversation flow. Endorphins too. Maybe that’s how you “dissolve” (as Maria Popova says Willa Cather said) into happiness. And health. And a sense of meaning and purpose, if that’s what you’re looking for too.
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