Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Shine your light anyway

Find your way home, originally uploaded by scrollwork.
In grade school, we were taught to sing,
"It is better to light just one little candle than to stumble in the dark,
Better far that you light just one little candle — all you need's a tiny spark.
If we'd all say a prayer that the world would be free
The wonderful dawn of a new day would be...
And if everyone lit just one little candle
What a bright world this would be!"

With my dimming memory (which I blame on perimenopause, the convenient catchall for all my physical woes), that's my best recollection of the lyrics, anyway.

Yes, it feels so good, freeing and cathartic to vent to a friend, write an angry letter (then rip it up), or come up with one brilliant retort that silences that irritating little yappermouth who's been snarking up your tree.

But if that's become a way of life for you, not an occasional release of steam, I'm guessing you're walking around with your finger on the giant button labeled, "Just try pushing this."

And you're not happy. So who's got the remote control on that?

How do I know? I fight that battle in my head every day, dear reader. I'll be serenely picking cat fur off the furniture one moment, and the next my heart will be pounding as my thoughts careen toward My Personal List of Unjust Utterances.

Grrr, I remember a host of cutting remarks that have knocked my ego onto its front teeth or dared me to unsheathe my saber of a tongue.

"I would never wear something like that." (It's good to know your limitations, girly.)

"I could never live where you live." (You'll never have to, you have Doctor Daddy buying you a condo.)

"Isn't that a stretch for you?" (I can stretch far enough to connect my knuckle to your jaw.)

"You'd be pretty if it weren't for that chin." (I'm Leno's love child.)

"You speak English very well." (for a non-white person?)

"My wife says you did better than she had expected you would." (And you have no qualms repeating this to me?)

"You have young children, you should be home with them." (from a two-bit editor trying to intimidate me into quitting)

"We picked the other applicant because she's young and single, and her interests reflect that." (from another editor who forgot there are things such as birthdays, weddings, and oh, this little thing called non-discrimination)

In the tradition of Dave Barry, I add: I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.

Funny how my usually foggy memory manages to retrieve all the bad things without delay. I have yet to locate the manual on setting preferences for memory access. I think the drop-down menu is in the vicinity of the heart, not the head.

By the time I'm to the bottom of My List of Unjust Utterances, I'm walking around in a dark cloud of buzzing flies and dust the likes of which Pigpen in the Peanuts strip has never seen. It won't take much effort to grow that list. Or balloon that dark cloud.

But would those trapped miners in Chile choose to stay in darkness? That would be insane. The world cheers, and I right along, as each miner is brought back into the light. I just need to snatch myself back.

If only it were as simple as switching on my head lamp. I am always on the prowl for switches that can toggle me over to the bright side. Happily, it doesn't take much to do that, either.

Today, my friend, Jan, posted this thought on Facebook:
"Being happy doesn't mean everything is perfect. It means you have decided to see beyond the imperfections."

Aaaand I'm sunny-side up again!

The keyword here is 'decided." Happiness is a choice. It's not contingent on every condition being met. (But I do think happiness and hope are intimately related.)

In the quiet evening hours, my husband is used to me randomly piping up, "Contentment." I'm bookmarking the moment. It's a good way to balance our interaction so that not everything that comes out of my mouth is a whine.

What do I choose to be happy about today?
How about this: you're reading me right now. You've given me your time. You might decide to sample a couple other posts here. You might even come back. I'm on cloud 9! (That's the cloud above the dark cloud.)

"I see you," as they saluted each other on James Cameron's Avatar. I see you in Australia, China and the Philippines lighting up on my analytics audience map when my Canadian, Mexican and U.S. readers tuck in for the night. I see you in the U.K. and Germany checking in. There you are, Saudi Arabia. Hello!

You've lent your energy to this space we've carved out for us, not even two months in existence. My Follow widget works now, too -- woohoo! Hearts to Kristine, my first official follower who isn't related to me by blood or marriage. Soon the little page views counter will say 1,000, and we'll all be flicking on our lights in the darkness to let each other know we're here.

Be brave, say something out loud in the comments section, OK? I'll be listening for you, dear one.