The world is a magical mystical place. Really! Yeah, I sometimes bitch and moan like a cane toting complaining curmudgeon-y coot grumbling at a grocery deli counter with no thin setting on their meat slicer. Sure, I whine about my mysterious morning aches, my ever increasing peregrinations to late night urinations or my constant mental head trip of feeling like I am body surfing blindfolded through my middle-age years, but (and it’s a giant ‘butt’ much bigger than any Kardasian could carry) ‘BUT” the truth is I love life. Mine in particular… but that might just be because I am more familiar with that one. I bet yours is dandy too if you look past the day to day minutia, headaches and traumas we all get bogged down with.
Like everyone else, I carry a busload of baggage and have dealt with serious setbacks, but I enjoy my world. I love my wife and family. I have some wonderful friends. I live in a groovy comfortable house. My brain might sometimes be wonky but it comes through when I need it. My health is relatively good (oh that will jinx it). Sure, there are lots and lots and lots of things that could be better; not every day is a grand gala party. I don’t get to travel as much as I would like. I live too far away from family and friends. Health issues abound. And my ‘play’ to ‘work’ ratio is way off balance… but my point is even though there is plenty to grouse and grumble about, things really are okey-dokey at the IHOD… International House Of Dan. I still smile most everyday (then again so do the chronically dim-witted and mentally challenged but I’m trying to be high road uplifty here so I will ignore that).
I know folks that take all sorts of doctor-prescribed (and self-medicating) chemicals to keep them level, even and ‘normal’. I’m just not sure what this ‘normal’ is they are seeking. Nor do I think any level of pill popping will make me this ‘normal’ thing they speak of. I mean, isn’t everybody a little crazy in their own way?
But if abnormal is actually normal than don’t we all have this backwards? Are we all jumping in a lake to stay dry or drinking a beer to sober up? If abnormal is actually normal, no wonder we are all a bit screwed up (or down). We are all jiving when we should be juking, which explains a lot. But again, the only brain I know is mine and I must be doing something right because most days I wake up happy. I have to assume even though it sometimes feels like I am living my life in one of Pavlov’s rat mazes, I must be in the slightly saner wing of the societal nut house.
A famous rock singer recently committed suicide. I, like most folks, react with an immediate sense of wasteful loss, then question how somebody with success, fame, talent, money and a loving family can feel a darkness so bleak. I’ve had bad moments, but they pass. The sun rises with a new day’s adventure. The sadness de jour eventually wanes. Sometimes crazy serious overwhelming events knock you to your knees, but today’s insurmountable problems become smaller with each tomorrow.
The other day I really did not want to go work. I was in an ill mood and I knew the ugly stack of headaches awaiting on my desk was only going to sour it worse than sucking on a sack of lemons. Wearing an early morning commute glum glare I pulled up to a traffic light and glanced into the car next to mine. Suddenly I smiled.
A short small woman was sitting behind the wheel squeezing a giant family sized plastic bottle of yellow mustard onto a hot dog and bun. The mustard bottle was half the size of her head. I imagined if she also had a cow’s leg size catsup condiment container too. She took a big bite and then squirted out another massive yellow blob. She rapidly repeated the squish and chomp process devouring the entire drippy dog in the course of one sloppy red light.
I’d never seen anything like this before and certainly not at 7:15am behind the wheel of a car. Five decades on the planet and just by looking to the right I had another wacky new experience I could talk about. How could I stay in a bad mood? Amusement is everywhere if you just take a moment to look. I’m not saying watching a freaky frankfurter feast will prevent suicide, as a matter of fact, she might some day accidentally kill herself trying to drive while juggling a wiener and a massive messy mustard bottle. But noticing the wacky abnormal ‘normal’ stuff constantly going on around us can sure help make the world a lot more fun. The nasty pile ‘o’ crap was still waiting for me on my desk but it was easier to face in a good mood.
A couple of weekends ago my Wife and I had a stressful 13 hour drive up to Iowa for my nephew’s High School graduation. We hit a torrential rain storm that added stress and several very uncomfortable hours to the drive. Then our quick visit to her Mom’s bank turned long and ugly when the staff could not get their key to a safe deposit box to work. Tired, frustrated and woefully behind schedule we decided why fight it.
We took the slightly longer route on the last leg of the trip and detoured through the town my wife spent her earliest years in. She had not been back there in 30 years, so we found lots for her to be nostalgic about as we cruised down the tiny town’s familiar but different streets. We smiled and laughed while revisiting her past’s simpler times but what really helped us forget about the miserable night’s travels was when we discovered her home town had a new claim to worldwide fame. It was home to the Guinness Book Of Record’s listing of Worlds Largest Popcorn Ball. Now if surprisingly finding a little windowed building in the center of your hometown housing the world’s largest popcorn ball does not put you in a good frame of mind, nothing will.
That little extra detour when things were going so wrong, truly made everything seem right again. So the next time you find yourself getting worn down swimming the wrong way up society’s sanity stream, just stop. It might be you that is actually going the wrong direction. And all that work is just making it worse. Let yourself smile. Eat a hot dog with a gallon of mustard for breakfast. Go visit a 9370 lb popcorn ball. Or just look around, you never know where it will be but I bet there is something going on out there that can make you smile.