Dear Unhappy Students,
You were not promised a rose garden.
Neither, I think, did you expect one.
Nevertheless, you are unhappy.
Why am I unhappy? you ask yourself.
The man in the Chinese restaurant who stands at the register all day to take my money when I eat the buffet lunch, he doesn’t look unhappy.
The woman who takes away the trash each night, that’s her second job of the day and she doesn’t seem unhappy.
Why am I, sitting on a sofa with my feet up on the table, making ink marks in a black book, at a graduate school preparing me to work in an exotic, highly paid field, unhappy?
Greater ones than you and I have felt the same.
Monet, I think, gets to the heart of it best.
No one but myself knows the anxiety I go through and the trouble I give myself to finish paintings which do not satisfy me and seem to please so very few others.
As long as I have a want, I have a reason for living.
Satisfaction is death.
-George Bernard Shaw
Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.
I bring this up because if you don’t feel yourself to be the kind of person who willingly enters into the bargain Monet describes, it may be a sign you are not going down the path in life which will most engage the gifts you’ve been given.
There is an anxiety to the making of work from nothing that punishes the person attempting it.
I have not seen anyone I admire find a way to sidestep it or rid themselves of it except by finishing the work.
That’s usually good for 5 minutes of smiling.