Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Let It Shine, Let It Shine, Let It Shine. . .

Standing on my porch, waving my kids and grandkids away after dinner here last weekend, I had a most enormous rush of smiles. Glowing like a lighthouse, I watched them all the way down the street I call Transcendental Avenue. I had had a hell of a week of push and shove, crowned with two days and nights with the munchikins, and at that moment I was very tired and very satisfied, filled with payback for my efforts, and beaming. Everyone had such a good time, so much fun. That is why I do these things – the reward is so SATISFYING!

I got to thinking about the term, how it is a specific kind of happiness. The feeling is unique for me in that involves a direct reward – usually for energy well spent, but it could also be for having understood something correctly, or choosing the right turn of phrase, or making a beautiful thing – perhaps augmented by effort? Or perhaps not. . .

The dictionary defines it prosaically as “meeting a need,” (hard not to think of the Rolling Stones) and Wikepedia catalogues a bunch of uses for the word:
•Computer user satisfaction
•Customer satisfaction
•Job satisfaction
•Satisfaction theory of atonement, a Christian view of salvation
•The regaining of honour in a duel
•The process or outcome of assigning values to the free variables of a satisfiable formula
•Satisfaction of legacies, a doctrine of fulfilling a legacy during the testator's lifetime.
•Accord and satisfaction, a contract law concept about the purchase of the release from a debt obligation

But none of these describe the feeling I had.  I decided to look up what others have said about satisfaction, and I was stunned – and sometimes confused – by the variety:

“As long as I have a want, I have a reason for living. Satisfaction is death. ” 
― George Bernard Shaw, Overruled

Whoa. That man must have been trouble to live with. But closer to my own understanding:

“For me, Art is the restoration of order. It may discuss all sort of terrible things, but there must be satisfaction at the end. A little bit of hunger, but also satisfaction.”
― Toni Morrison

And finally and a little elliptically, a woman after my own heart:

 “Happiness is not a goal...it's a by-product of a life well lived.” 
― Eleanor Roosevelt

“Satisfactions are what keep me going. They are moments of satori; extreme joy from the realization of a job well done: a child well loved, a day well lived, an investment worth all the energy I spent. Like rationalizations, I can hardly go a day without them. The things that cause me to feel satisfied are beacons of my own true nature and therefore light my path forward.” 
– Me