And from an academic world that encounters it too rarely. “What do decorating a room, wearing tasteful clothes, expressing cheerfulness, offering friendship, enjoying Mayday, taking a vacation, and cultivating the ordinary virtues of patience, friendliness, and kindness all have in common?” Mitchell Kalpakgian asks in an essay which appeared in The Imaginative Conservative. “What do a bare, plain room, an unkempt appearance, a surly demeanor, an environment without flowers, a life of work with no leisure, and a murmuring disposition all share in common?”
“Just as a room can be clean but drab, a person’s appearance proper but unattractive, persons moral but unpleasant, a life useful but joyless, so human life needs to be more than utilitarian, functional, practical, and economic. The art of happiness requires the gift of beautifying daily life with the gracious touches that decorate rooms, select elegant clothing, bring cheer into others’ lives, create hospitable social occasions, and cultivate the manners that create harmony and affability in human relationships. Daily life can be a Mayday of lovely flowers of great variety and splendid color, or it can be a dreary existence that is colorless and lackluster.”
Dr. Kalpakgian was Professor of English at Simpson College (Iowa) for 31 years.