20 January 2008

You're Not Fully Alive Unless You're Zestfully Alive

OK, I'll begin with a confession: in my opinion, Hairspray is just an "OK" movie. Not amazing. Not life-changing. Not absolutely fabulous. Not worth watching every week, even if my roommates' friends do get giddy like schoolgirls and dance and sing along while watching it, or other friends who are otherwise quite straight-acting can't help but sing along with queer delight. You know who you are.

But I actually enjoy the last half hour or so, from the protest through the end. There's just something about seeing people stand for their right to be considered as human and respectable as anyone else and realizing how recent an issue racism is, as well as the zestful and exuberant enjoyment of being alive portrayed by the dance, the romance, the acceptance of self and others, and the simple statement that "without love", life is lifeless.

It makes me want to be more zestful in life. I don't think the richest in life is found by joining a choreographed dance number or by being exuberant in everything you're doing. I think it's more than that: to learn to allow yourself to simply enjoy life and its quirks and joys even amidst trouble and pain. Sometimes, when I start feeling a little manic about life (deliriously upbeat), I remember the trials other people are going through and the living conditions of people in certain societies, and it sobers me up. Sometimes, when I'm feeling weighed down by the gravity of life, I have to pull back and just be grateful for my blessings and guiltlessly enjoy life a bit and help others do so to keep from uselessly wondering what I can do about the suffering all around.

I want to act! I can't wait for others to stand up and take action to change the world for the better while I just play the system. There will always be reasons (usually involving self-preservation) not to defend a cause or an underdog or invest in changing the world for the better. There are too many battles to fight: they must be chosen carefully if my efforts are to be worthwhile and not meaningless token efforts spread thin. But to stand up and make your voice heard and make your life an example in some way, that is truly living.

I want to love! I hate the feeling of stomping out these amazing feelings of love, warmth, devotion, patience, tenderness, motivation to be better, and general motivation to be a better person I've felt when romantically attracted. However that is to happen, it would be really nice to allow myself to continue to feel it. There must be ways.

I want to dance! Figuratively. Maybe literally. I want to feel so good about life that I can't help but dance. Dancing is one of those things I've never really enjoyed doing, though I'm not sure why. There are some things in life I haven't done because there's simply no reason to try them: for example, I don't need to try illegal drugs. But there are other things in life, like dancing, I haven't done because I haven't really wanted to, yet I feel something stir inside when I see a great dance performance. I share the enthusiasm of the people performing and want to have the ability of showing that kind of expression in my movement. And to be honest, I wonder how much of my resistance to dancing is the simple fact that I feel completely out of place and unable to express myself in dance because I haven't done it, and I wonder if I learned how to be expressive with my body in that way, if I'd actually start liking to dance? There's something that feels good and happy about seeing people celebrating with their whole body in motion, and maybe part of me really does want to learn that joy.

...leave it to me to turn a feel-good movie into an analytical essay. *grin*


Mr. B said...

I think maybe you want to dance because of a certain boy in another..."feel-good" movie. ;)

Original Mohomie said...

No, sir. I don't feel like dancin'.

Peter said...

I must confess to liking Dreamgirls better than Hairspray- same issues at play, but a more realistic portrayal of the how both sides have good and bad.

P.S. I love to dance. I recently learned that dancing can be much more than it ever was with girls at church functions. Maybe that's the problem?

The Impossible K said...

Hairpsray? Or Hairspray? ;-)
Still haven't seen the movie- and honestly, until now, never really had the desire to... but now I'm a bit curious...

Post-It Boy said...

I have never danced in your apartment to Hairspray. Although I have danced in my bedroom when no one is around.

And when I went to see the play, I stood up at my seat and sang the last song since I know all the words...

And yes, I'm surprised when people are shocked when they hear I'm a member of the Moho VIP Club.

jimf said...

> There's just something about seeing. . . the zestful and exuberant
> enjoyment of being alive portrayed by the dance, the romance,
> the acceptance of self and others, and the simple statement that
> "without love", life is lifeless.
> It makes me want to be more zestful in life. . .
> I want to act! . . .
> I want to love! . . .
> I want to dance! . . .

Bertrand Russell on "zest" (from a summary of
of _The Conquest of Happiness_
at http://www.michaelfuchs.org/razorsedge/?story=2007-05-18 )

Chapter 10: "Is Happiness Still Possible?"

When I was a boy I knew a man bursting with happiness whose
business was digging wells. His happiness did not depend upon
intellectual sources. It was based upon physical vigour,
a sufficiency of work, and the overcoming of not insuperable
obstacles in the shape of rock.

The happiness of my gardener is of the same species; he wages
a perennial war against rabbits. Although well over seventy,
he works all day and bicycles sixteen hilly miles to and from
his work, but the fount of joy is inexhaustible, and it is
'they rabbits' that supply it. . .

Fundamental happiness depends more than anything else upon what
may be called a friendly interest in persons and things. . .

The secret of happiness is this: let your interests be as wide as
possible, and let your reactions to the things and persons that
interest you be as far as possible friendly rather than hostile.

Chapter 12 "Affection"

One of the chief causes of lack of zest is the feeling that
one is unloved, whereas conversely the feeling of being loved
promotes zest more than anything else does.

General self-confidence towards life comes more than anything
else from being accustomed to receive as much of the right
sort of affection as one has need for.

It is affection received, not affection given, that causes this
sense of security, though it arises most of all from affection
which is reciprocal.

The child from whom for any reason parental affection is withdrawn
may set to work at a surprisingly early age to meditate on life
and death and human destiny. He becomes an introvert, melancholy
at first, but seeking ultimately the unreal consolations of some
system of philosophy or theology. The desire to make an intelligible
system or partern out of it is at bottom an outcome of fear,
in fact a kind of agoraphobia or dread of open spaces.

In the best kind of affection a man hopes for a new happiness
rather than for escape from an old unhappiness.