There are many forces that motivate people to do things. I don’t mean bad things, I’m talking about good things. Really, every positive decision we make in life is due to an intrinsic motivation to “do better” to “become better” to “achieve more”. Sometimes, it’s the intrinsic part that becomes so difficult and holds us back — the last thing anyone wants to be is selfish.
I have always loved to read. Sometimes though, the things I read weren’t exactly appropriate for my age. I will blame this on my mother (see previous post). When I was in the fourth grade, I did a book report on Sybil. Yes, that Sybil. My fourth grade teacher laughs about that whenever I see her. She said she just assumed it was standard reading material in my house — it was. My mother always had journals on Psychology lying around. There was always some thick book of case studies just begging me to read it. Those books were so fascinating to me. Oh, I owned other books too, I had the whole Little House series — (it was mandatory back then).
In the fifth grade we had to do a report on a historical figure — I chose Gloria Steinem. Yes, that Gloria Steinem. (This again, I will blame on my mother.) I never really understood the kids who were reading C.S. Lewis or Nancy Drew Mysteries. To me, you really couldn’t get more interesting than a woman with multiple personalities or someone as out-spoken as Ms. Steinem.
Thankfully, I discovered literature. It was in college when I really understood what I had been missing. I was taking a women of short story literature class. My world changed completely. I could not stop reading. Margaret Atwood, Emily Carr, Alice Munro, Dorothy Parker, Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty — I went through high school literature classes thinking it was all about Shakespeare and The Great Gatsby (I love both of these, by the way). There were women who wrote stories I could relate to and wrote them really well.
Now, I still love to read. But, with the addition of children, the reading content once again was not exactly age appropriate for me. I am blessed with children who love to read. As a responsible parent, I thought I should screen the books they were reading. So yes, I’ve read all the Harry Potter books (the fact that I read all of them at least 4 times does not have anything to do with the screening process — I get that). I have read all of the Twilight series (yes, ok — more than once). So there I was, once again craving something to read — something that was all mine.
A couple of months ago, I came across the most lovely person on Twitter (get over it). We chatted a bit, she thought I was funny — (this is how I meet most of my friends — if you think I’m funny, I’m yours for life). Turns out she was an author — a really good author. I googled her recently (most facts can be found by googling) and read the most intriguing short story — “Zebra Sounds” by (my long-lost best friend) Judy Clement Wall (please try to finish this post before your curiosity to google her kicks in). Yes! I was back! It was a great story and it was all mine.
This was not the first of my Twitter author finds. I had found and had been tweeting (really, can you move on) with other authors; Laura Zigman (my close personal friend and author of Animal Husbandry), Allison Winn Scotch, Susan Orlean, Julie Klam. And with each new find, I headed to the book store. And with each trip to the book store, I learned that being happy by doing something that was just for you, was ok.
The intrinsic desire that had failed me so many times in my life, was there — with me. Reminding me that happy is good and smiling is better. We all have the ability to be a positive part of our little world’s — sometimes, we need to remember that the intrinsic gratification we get out of it isn’t selfishness — it’s just smiling, and smiling’s my favorite.