Saturday, June 21, 2003

I'm typing this from Rose and Shanah's apartment, on Blue Rose's nifty Dell QuietKey keyboard. This is because the QuietKey has my endorsement as the best keyboard I've ever typed on. The keys are so springy! But the reason I have access to this marvel of inputting power is that I'm staying in Rose and Shanah's apartment for the first half of the Stanford Waltz Week and Waltz Weekend. I'm currently pleasantly exhausted from the day's classes, which included a lot of pivots so my right wrist and hand were kind of sore for a while. Shanah says that I pull more than I have to when I pivot, which is true. It's a habit I've picked up from pivoting with people who don't do their half of the work, and it's kind of hard for me to change that habit when I pivot with someone who knows what she's doing. If you read this, though, I really do appreciate it when my partners do their share, even if I sometimes forget to back off.

I've said it before and I'll probably say it again: I like dancing. I love the music we dance to; I love the pageantry of asking someone to dance; I love the wonderful feeling of competence; I love the social dynamic; I love the movement. (I am also not entirely unappreciative of the fact that it affords me the opportunity to dance and flirt with pretty girls.)

There is something excellent about dance that makes me smile. I've been smiling a lot up here, and I think it kinds of weirds my hostesses out, but I can't help it. One of the things I discovered this year (been discovering for a long time, like an archaeologist dusting off a find that he can already basically identify) is one of my primary motivators. This motivator is aristeia if I may use the word; excellence if I may not. I do not mean truth, although I don't think something is liable to be truly excellent if it isn't also true. But really, the fact that Rose's mouse is white ... that may be true, but it's not really excellent. Nor do I particularly mean beauty - although excellence is beautiful. Something may be beautiful (e.g., Chicago) and also not be excellent in the way that inspires me.

But excellence, now ... excellence is, if I may borrow a Victorian term, improving. Reading Honor Harrington, for instance, makes me a better person, because it illuminates a critical aspect of personhood: good character. Honor novels are entertaining and well written, but more importantly they allow me to spend time in the company of noble people (an all too rare occurrence in the real world, so I'll take it where I can find it). I mean the kind of nobility that shows you something that is not only true but grand, that inspires you to be better than who you are.

Better than who you are. I recently read Richard Bach's Illusions, and while I enjoyed the book it reminded me of one of my pet peeves: the idea that things are just as they should be right now. Maybe they are, but I'm a romantic so I refuse to believe that without a much stronger case behind it than anybody's ever presented to me. I don't want this world. I don't want this me. I'm relatively happy with the way things are, but I want something better all the same. That doesn't mean I'm unhappy right now because I don't have a better world or a better me; I've got a pretty good one of both all things considered. But good things are not the sort of things which you should ever stop wanting more of. I want to be a better me. I want to be the kind of person that brings out the best in people, and I want to be the kind of person who sees the best in people, like in the old Amy Grant song:

I may not be every mother's dream for her little girl
And my face may not grace the mind of everyone in the world
But that's all right, as long as I can have one thing, I pray:
When people look inside my life, I want to hear them say
He has his Father's eyes.

Okay, in the original it's "she has," but you get the picture. I want to be the sort of person who brings out the best in people by care, yes, but also by inspiration. It is in the nature of excellence to inspire people to great things, and I want to be an excellent person. Because it is also in the nature of excellence that excellence is a good thing, and I want good things. Rambling? Yes. But you get the picture.