Being Happy

I don’t write much about my relationship with the Divine, not for public consumption at least, because it’s heretical in about 40 different ways (I suspect), I don’t want to horrify my friends and family,  I don’t want to get into arguments with people about religion. As the “No Solicitors” sign on my door says, don’t evangelize me and I won’t evangelize you.

But I think that what I’m about to write is useful in lots of different philosophic and religious world views. At any rate, I need to write it out to get it straight in my own head. As good a thing to do on a blog as anything else.

When I was an impressionable teenager, I read the book Illusions by Richard Bach. [Let’s also not waste time discussing the quality of his “revelations” or whether he walks what he talks. Doesn’t matter.] Here’s the passage that has always stayed with me:

26. And [the Messiah] said unto them, “If a man told God that he wanted most of all to help the suffering world, no matter the price to himself, and God answered and told him what he must do, should the man do as he is told?”

27. “Of course, Master!” cried the many. “It should be pleasure for him to suffer the tortures of hell itself, should God ask it!”

28. “No matter what those tortures, no matter how difficult the task?”

29. “Honor to be hanged, glory to be nailed to a tree and burned, if so be that God has asked,” said they.

30. “And what would you do,” the Master said unto the multitude, “if God spoke directly to your face and said, ‘I COMMAND THAT YOU BE HAPPY IN THE WORLD, AS LONG AS YOU LIVE.’ What would you do then?”

31. And the multitude was silent, not a voice, not a sound was heard upon the hillsides, across the valleys where they stood.

Can you answer that question? There are a lot of days when I can’t.

A few weeks ago I discovered this video by George Harrison:

The video is painful in places — in case the 70s leisure suit and the giant rubber duck didn’t give it away — although if you can hang on to the first chorus he makes a silly face that’s worth seeing.

The chorus is the key part. Once the Beatles broke up, George was free to write music that reflected the spirituality that he’d been discovering. Many of his songs can be applied just as well to Krishna (his ishta devata, his personal deity within the Hindu pantheon) as to any human relationship, and this is one of them.

All I’ve got to do is to love You

All I’ve got to be is to be happy.

That “happy” is not a request for happiness to be bestowed upon him, and it’s certainly not any superficial kind of happy. It echos Mr. Bach, who was echoing (from a far far distance, admittedly) the ancient philosophers. What is a good life? How am I to be happy in this imperfect world of pain and loss and lack? How am I to be happy within the constraints of whatever ethical system I have been born into, or chosen for myself?

What if all the religious promises of happiness — in this world or the next — are not promises, but instructions? Or even, maybe, commands?

Yeesh. God’s not going to give me happiness, in fact God is going to expect me to use whatever I’ve been given to get through all the drama, tragedy, etc of worldly life and still be able to say that life is good.

I don’t think the Divine wants martyrs. [One more thing religious persecutors throughout history have gotten wrong. Don’t tell the Inquisition.] I think we’re here to increase the amount of Love in the universe. Our talents and our flaws and our passions are indivisible — maybe our journey to “happiness in this world” is the gift of our souls back to the Divine, when this life ends.

Do you know what happiness is  to you? I’m still trying to figure it out.

Bezels bezels bezels

I am embarrassed to admit it, but Christmas Present A is still waiting to be mounted and sent. It’s finally recovered from its months of high tension on the loom. But I did so much loomwork right before Christmas that I’ve burned out on it a bit. It won’t last. There are stories that need pictures.

In the meantime, I have been playing with my favorite treasure hoard — vintage Swarovski heliotrope (undrilled) stones. So I took a few pictures this morning. The camera can’t do them justice. I have no idea what I’m going to do with them when I have enough of them done. I don’t even know what “enough” is at this point. They’re just awfully pretty and relatively quick gratification compared to weaving a 9×12″ beaded tapestry.


The trove, as of this morning. The three squares in the upper left corner are a 23mm 4675, an 18mm 4650, and (sort of down and between them) an 18mm 4470 which has rounded corners.  Here’s a closeup:

Clockwise from upper left: 23mm 4675, 18mm 4650, cushion cut 18mm 4470 with rounded corners.

In the upper right, two triangles: an 18mm 4727 and an 18mm 4723, with rounded tips.

On the left, 18mm 4727 triangle with sharp corners. Right: 18mm 4723 “cushion cut” triangle which has rounder corners.

The lower half of the picture includes a 12mm 4866 stone (called a “rocket” because it looks a bit like the Apollo command capsule — if that’s before your time, please Google, the cold rain here in Austin has me feeling quite old and arthritic enough already); two vintage 14mm rivolis (1122); a 20x15mm 4140 oval; and 4 vintage 10mm 5100 beads.

Corners are notoriously tricky for peyote bezels, because peyote stitch gives a very close fitting frame for the stone, and corners require precise, fiddly decreases. I used Bead&Button’s Stones with Corners (Beading Basics) for these pieces. It’s brilliant. When you’re weaving a bezel for a circular or oval stone, you start with a row or three of peyote with cylinder beads, and then switch to 15/0s to capture the stone snugly. That’s how I’d always started out for stones with corners, as well.  Lesley Weiss’ genius idea was to include 15/0s in the initial rows, at the corners — you can decrease in smaller “steps,” which gives a much more elegant finish.

I also found Artbeads’ Handy Tip How to Make an Open Back Peyote Bezel helpful for round stones; as well as Laura McCabe’s book Creating Crystal Jewelry with Swarovski, which covers several different stone shapes (available for the Kindle, as well as in paperback format).

Christmas 2009 – Without Mom (not for the faint of heart)

We were oh so good
We took the kids to see the Christmas lights
We sometimes didn’t change the station
When your favorite carols played

We were oh so good
I was kind to people I didn’t know
and people I didn’t like
and even the people I live with

We were oh so good
Julie put up your mother’s tree
We wrapped and we sang and we pretended nothing was wrong

We were nice, not naughty
Christmas was white and blue
We danced like sugarplum fairies
around the exposed nerves and raw edges

I crept down the stairs once everyone else was asleep
Hoping that Santa would grant my only wish
but we must not have been good enough
All I want for Christmas is my mother back
but you’re still asleep under the snow.

— tbird Christmas 2009

[2 Dec 2014: When I originally posted this on Facebook, I said that it probably made Christmas sound worse than it really was. Five years on — God! Really? — five years on, I think the poem is pretty accurate.]