Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Few Of My Favorite Things

Some days you leap out of bed with a spring in your step, whistle good morning to the birds on your window sill, and lead the charge into a new day. No? Me neither. I’ve heard that these people exist, but I’ve never met one, to my knowledge. The only way I’m leaping out of bed is if you put an ice cube down my back, and even then I’m more likely to fall on my face trying to leap out of bed. My morning routine looks more like a survival horror movie than a Disney film, but it gets the job done. Don’t let the greeting cards fool you. You don’t have to be a morning person in order to be a positive person. Some of us may take a little longer to get up to speed, but we get there, and when we do get there, look out, because we’re not slowing down either.

One of the ways we get there is by Looking for the light. Life is made up of good and bad, along with lots of between shades, and maybe even a few beyond shades. Most of the time, and for most people, a regular day is a stew of all of those possibilities mixed together, simmered until it’s hard to tell where one stops and another begins, and then served up in a dented bowl you’ve been using so long that you’ve forgotten where you got it. It just is. Sometimes it’s too hot and sometimes it’s too cold, maybe a little too much of this ingredient or not enough of that ingredient, but it’s the stew you have, and that’s usually better than not having any stew, so grab that lump of bread, sop up that stew, and get to it. You have a busy day ahead of you.

I like stew, but I don’t like everything that everyone else puts in stew. You’re probably the same. We all have our preferred ingredients, and the ingredients that we would prefer to do without. Rather than eat the bits I don’t like, I tend to move things around and focus on the bits I do like. You can often do life the same way.

Some people can take it all as it comes and have no real trouble with it. I’m not entirely certain what that’s like, but I suspect that it must be a good thing. It seems like it would make things somewhat easier at the very least. For most of us, though, the ingredients matter. Sometimes they matter too much, but you can make that better by choosing your focus. Spend more time with what you enjoy and you’ll spend more time enjoying life. It really works.

I love a good thunderstorm, but almost any rain will do. The sound of howling wind makes me smile. The driving rain makes me feel energized. I’ve always been a little nuts about storms. We had a tornado pass over our neighborhood once when I was about twelve (over, thankfully, no touchdown, and no real damage reported) and, while most people would be taking cover, I was standing in the middle of the street with a pair of binoculars trying to find the funnel. It was about 6:00 in the evening and pitch black outside. Visibility at ground level was probably less than five feet. I could not have found that twister with a spotlight, let alone binoculars, but I was sure trying. Children really have no idea sometimes, even the smart ones.

I don’t want it to rain all of the time, obviously, and I certainly don’t want anyone to be hurt or suffering because of a storm, but a good storm can be a good pick-me-up when the circumstances are right. The modern world being what it is, I can even go online and look up lightning videos and things like that when I want a jolt. It’s an easy thing to focus on, and one that many people find relaxing to various degrees. I probably like to be in storms more than most people, but I’m not even unique in that. Watch any show on storm chasers and you’ll get the idea. Soothing and exciting can sometimes be very similar.

Until recently, I’ve spent most of my life in close proximity to water. I grew up in the southern Gulf Coast region of Texas, and have floated, skied, boated, or swam just about every body of water in the south central part of the state at one time or another. I enjoy the outdoors in general, but always gravitate toward rivers, lakes, and beaches (which probably explains why I’m not such a fan of the desert outdoors, actually). Even during drought season, it was more common to find me exploring river beds than almost anywhere else.

There was a creek that ran a few blocks behind our house when I was a teenager. Unless there had been a recent rain, it was usually more dry than not, but it was nicely grown up, like a mini forest (or what I thought of as a forest at the time) in the middle of town. Before I was old enough to drive, that was where I would go to think, or to just get away from it all. That was my place … not always a happy place, or even a peaceful place, but a place where I could be comfortable being me, when that wasn’t always possible in other places. I haven’t been back to that creek in twenty-five years or more, but the idea remains the same. I am more comfortable near the water than almost anywhere else in the world.

Music hath charms … for me, music hath life. I can’t even imagine a world without music, or maybe I can, but we call that world Hell. Music in many varieties has always been a large part of who I am. It’s my background to everything. When I say that I want “peace and quiet,” it doesn’t even occur to me that this might be without music. Music is part of what I consider quiet. It’s as necessary to my being as water and air.

If I don’t have music playing where you can hear it, you can bet that it is still playing in my head. I could be the World Grand Champion at Musical Association, because anything and everything triggers a song reference to me. I do everything with a soundtrack, which is useful because I can also guide that soundtrack. It should come as no surprise that musical association can be used to trigger thoughts, memories, and emotions, and you don’t have to be musically obsessed like me to do this either. It is a power that is available to everyone. Just remember to use this power for good. You can trigger either positive or negative with musical association, so it is entirely up to you how you use it.

These are just a few of my favorite things, and they make fantastic tools for improving a day gone wrong. Remember, when we talk about going to your happy place, that isn’t actually a place outside that you have to go to. It’s inside. Happiness is not a destination. It’s a state of being. Sometimes you have to look a little harder to see it, but it’s there, in front of you, all around you, and, most importantly, inside of you. I may not always be able to go to the river, but I can always remember good times I’ve had at the river and, in remembering, I remember a reason to smile. Look for the light. Finding that light becomes so much easier once you realize that you are the light but, until you have that realization, there are so many triggers you can use to get you closer to that point. You just have to identify what they are for you. Focus on what you love, and everything else tends to fall into place.


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