"Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark. 
In effect, the people who change our lives the most begin to 
sing to us while we are still in darkness. If we listen to 
their song, we will see the dawning of a new part of ourselves."

Rabindranth Tagore

Existential Intelligence is the sensitivity and capacity to engage questions about human existence – how we got here, whether we have a purpose, and whether there is meaning in Life. Existential intelligence embraces the exploration of aesthetics, philosophy, religion and values like beauty, truth, and goodness. A strong existential intelligence allows human beings to see their place in the big picture, be it in the classroom, community, world, or universe.

First proposed by Howard Gardner, existential intelligence is one of nine theorized intelligences and is considered to be amoral – that is, it and the other eight categories of human intelligence can be used either constructively or destructively.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Personal Time Saps/Addiction

True confession time. I have been in the throes of an addiction that almost got the best of me.

I’ve been playing Poppit on line.

It all started in February in Las Vegas. I’d never been. Never really had an interest in Vegas to tell the truth. But my oldest, dearest friends convinced me to join them, which is how I found myself sitting at a slot machine at nine o-clock in the morning, with a glass of champagne in one hand and a controller in the other – madly trying to pop clusters of multi-colored balloons. Two days and 40.00 later I’d shot my gambling wad such as it was, and I was hooked. Thank God we were booked on a noon flight home.

Then a couple of months ago I started surfing the net, researching my interest in visual poetry. Don’t ask me how the little devil on my shoulder materialized, but when it whispered “Google Poppit…” I didn’t even think twice. Done. I was introduced to Club Pogo on-line game land.

It started innocently enough. I played for free and the games were interspersed with tedious commercials for Levitra and an assortment of other products I don’t want or need. (and BTW has anyone else noticed that Levitra sounds an awful lot like levitate? Is that deliberate?) I fooled around playing Poppit, but it wasn’t happening and the ads were boring so I never lasted long.

But then the real trouble began. I discovered an on-line tutorial of Poppit tips. I started winning. I wasn’t scoring big, but my Type A personality kicked in, and I started obsessing about getting better. There was a logic to the game that appealed to me and I found myself playing for an hour at a time – as a reward for finishing this or that boring admin task. And I played in airports, waiting for flights to Ohio, where I’ve been helping my mother move into a new house. I was stressed and tired and in retrospect – vulnerable. Poppit was the path of least resistance. And anyway, wasn’t I warding off Alzheimer’s by keeping my brain active?

Vanishing were the hours spent thinking and writing about the creative process. Studio time? I only had a few minutes here and there because of the hectic schedule. It was so much easier to play another round of Poppit instead. After all, maybe I could beat my highest score. Once I got it figured out I’d probably quit playing anyway.

I kept playing until one night last week, when I wakened at four a.m. because colored balloons were popping in my dreams. It was worse than an ear worm – a song you can’t get out of your head. I felt crazy. I had to do something.

I decided to quit cold turkey. I still wanted to figure out the strategies that have given long term players an edge - some of them have racked up millions of points! I happen to know how long ButterflyWingLV has been playing in order to amass more than 17 million points. Since 2001. I know what her win and loss record is because there are actually stats on line, and one of the most seductive aspects of Poppit is the ability to look up high scorers and compare yourself to other players.

But amassing 17 million points since 2001 – how many studio hours does that translate into? I don’t even want to know. It’s not for me to judge. All I know is that I want my unassigned time to go toward something that matters, and Poppit isn’t it. Winning? A kick. Strategy? Satisfying, I guess. But meaning? Priceless.

My whole Poppit experience is just another reminder that we have choices and can exercise free will for the use of at least some of our unassigned time. And that D word – discipline – is what it comes down to. I started writing Studio on my To Do list, and then I blocked out time on my weekly calendar – as a reminder of what really counts. Marriage counselors advise couples to set aside time for togetherness – whatever form togetherness takes, and artists must set aside time for making. Because without intention, insidious, unimportant trivia sneaks in and eats up time.

So think about your own day to day. Got a Poppit equivalent? Consider popping it. The artist in you will cheer. No one has enough time. Choose to make the most of yours.


  1. Amen, sister!

    Kathy Williams

  2. First - I have to tell you that I am laughing my head off! You are real!! You are not a saint! I've been there and done that and truly relate to this tale. Now, I will have to slap my hands so that I will not google Poppit.

  3. Gerrie pretty well summed up my respose! The urge to Google Poppit is pretty strong. Thanks for the giggle.

  4. Thanks! I needed that! (In my case, it is not Poppit and it is not just one activity but the bottom line is the same: discipline is required and scheduling studio time does make a difference.)

  5. I love it! It wasn't poppit but FarmVille on Facebook. I shocked my daughter when I had to hurry home to harvest my blueberries. I too read up on strategies and talked with my best friend about how to advance more quickly.
    And I gained nothing from any of it, not even a sense of satisfaction, each level gained was simply followed by one more. Fortunately I too made the connection and shut it down forever. Creating art is a blessing, being in the presence of creation is a gift far greater than the time spent harvesting digital blueberries. Thank you for sharing the humanity we share, I am still smiling.

  6. Acknowledging the problem is the first step toward recovery, my friend. You show great courage putting yourself out there and admitting it! Ha ha ha ha ha!
    My problem? Spider solitaire on my iphone. I think it has contributed to my carpal-tunnel-whatever-it-is with my arms! Ha! Maybe we can attend the game-addict 12 step program together....