This winter has been difficult. So far there’s been death(s), illness, flood (well, the office was soaked by an adjecent burst pipe and we were displaced for a month). I need not mention the added zest of hormonal fluctuations.
So, I’ve been doing the various things one does to cheer up. Sleep. A little too much television. Exercise (occasionally). Sometimes food (although I’m happy to say that’s rarely the thing I reach for — perhaps there’s something to this whole hypnosis thing!)
This weekend, though, I did something that made me happier than I’ve felt in a very longtime: I attended a weekend seminar. That’s right — two and a half days of sitting in a hotel seminar room, alternately too cold and too hot, and suddenly I’m raring to go again.
It helps that this was the best conference I’ve ever attended: The National Guild of Hypnotists sponsored ten talks, ranging from “Winning with Post-Traumatic Stress” to “Mastering Age Regression” and “Non-Verbal Hypnosis.” I gleaned something valuable from each speaker (even the guy who has visited Atlantis).
But you don’t need hypnosis to encourage you to accept the underlying suggestion here — which is that active learning not only stretches your mind, it actually triggers some of the chemical changes that create positive emotions.
This has been put much more elegantly before — in a quotation I’ve been carrying around since my friend Jane recommended, many moons ago, that I visit a place every bit as wonderful as Atlantis.
Whenever the dark hovers over you, I hope you enjoy this passage, set in the Camelot of The Once And Future King by T.H. White:
“’The best thing for being sad,’ replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, ‘is to learn something.
“That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then – to learn.
“Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate never be tortured by, never fear or distrust and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you. Look at what a lot of things there are to learn – pure science, the only purity there is. You can learn astronomy in a lifetime, natural history in three, literature in six. And then after you have exhausted a milliard lifetimes in biology and medicine and theocriticism and geography and history and economics – why, you can start to make a cartwheel our of the appropriate wood, or spend fifty years learning to begin to learn to beat your adversary at fencing.
“After that you can start again on the mathematics, until it is time to learn to plough.’”