Early on, we identified “engaging the world” as a basic building block for ethical and personal development. This refers to engaging at some level, coming out of the cocoon.
Engagement as an aspect of flourishing refers to being fully engaged in the affairs of life: in one’s activities and relationships. It implies enthusiasm, a let-the-juice-run-down-your-chin bite into the watermelon. In fact, this kind of engagement is the active manifestation of enthusiasm. When a person lives this way, life seems more meaningful. For one thing, a person who is fully engaged is too busy to feel depressed. For another, engagement builds the relationships that serve as building blocks for spirituality.
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
No one was more fully engaged in his conducting than Leonard Bernstein. Watch him conducting:
- Mahler, Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection”
- Mahler, Symphony No. 5
- Mahler, Symphony No. 6
- Mahler, Symphony No. 9
- Beethoven, Symphony No. 9
- Beethoven, Symphony No. 5
- Beethoven, Symphony No. 3, “Eroica”
- Beethoven, Symphony No. 8
Zdeněk Fibich’s 2nd and 3rd symphonies have a sordid history, arising out of an affair he had during not one but two consecutive marriages. Yet whatever we might say about the ethical quality of his conduct, he was fully engaged in his life. The music reflects that in a more integrated way than his life did.
Franz Berwald’s two piano quintets:
- Vincent van Gogh, Two Peasant Women Digging in Field with Snow (1890)
- Vincent van Gogh, Two Peasants Digging (after Millet) (1889)
- Vincent van Gogh, Arles View from the Wheat Fields (1888)
- Vincent van Gogh, Meadows near Rijswijk (1882)
- Paul Cezanne, Life in the Fields (c. 1875)
- Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Summer (1568)
Music: songs and other short pieces
- Lee Ann Womack, I Hope You Dance
Now as the train bears west, / Its rhythm rocks the earth, / And from my Pullman berth / I stare into the night / While others take their rest. / Bridges of iron lace, / A suddenness of trees, / A lap of mountain mist / All cross my line of sight, / Then a bleak wasted place, / And a lake below my knees.
Full on my neck I feel / The straining at a curve; / My muscles move with steel, / I wake in every nerve. / I watch a beacon swing / From dark to blazing bright; / We thunder through ravines / And gullies washed with light.
Beyond the mountain pass / Mist deepens on the pane; / We rush into a rain / That rattles double glass. / Wheels shake the roadbed stone, / The pistons jerk and shove, / I stay up half the night / To see the land I love.
[Theodore Roethke, “Night Journey”]