Happy

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In December, we made a short trip to Paris. My daughter and I were delighted to visit Shakespeare and Company, the English-language bookstore on the Left Bank of the Seine — a fantastic bookstore, that is, if you love books, as we do.

We left the store cheerfully with two bags full of books, all of them inscribed with the Shakespeare and Company stamp. Books that we weren’t looking for but that seemed to have been looking for us.

Midlife: A Philosophical Guide (definitely for me), Coffee Art and The Coffee Dictionary (my daughter’s choice for sure). And, among others, a yellow book that we both picked from the shelves: How Art Can Make You Happy.

A little book by Bridget Watson Payne and what a great little book. It took me two hours to read it. Two hours of, well, enjoying intelligence and energy (see quote below). And, afterwards, the impression it was not just about art but about life itself.

Highly recommended — just like Shakespeare and Company, in case you happen to visit Paris.

Let’s face it: We’re all limited. Terribly, unavoidably limited. We are limited by the time and place and society we were born into – limited by race and class and gender assumptions, limited by privilege, limited by lack of privilege, limited by things we were taught as children, limited by language, limited by the range of light our human eyeballs can sense, limited by a million things we can do relatively little – if indeed anything – to alter. So, yeah, limited to an almost tragic degree. Each and every one of us, every single day. But humankind has in its long and tumultuous history created one great and blazing invention to get ourselves beyond our own limitations and, hint, it’s not the Internet. It’s art. It’s painting and sculpture and music and literature and dance and on and on and on.

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