Thursday, January 13, 2011

And the writers kept writing....

Word has it that forty-nine states have warmly welcomed Old Man Winter and can proudly point to evidence of his arrival within their boundaries. The only holdout, Florida, being the defiant little state that it is, continues to tell off the Old Man by wagging a giant, peninsular middle finger at him. Being so close to having a full set, Winter can't be happy about Florida's resistance.
"You're going to get snow and you'll like it, Florida!"
"You can't tell me what to do. You're not my real dad!"
"It'll just be for a little while. All the other states have it and they're not whining!"
"Gah! I hate you! I'm going over to Cuba's. He understands me!"

Poor, poor Winter. Always just barely missing out on the medal ceremonies in the grand Tournament of Most Loved Seasons. Sure, there are those that love winter and all that it brings. Without winter, Spring would lose a bit of its redeeming and restorative charm. History books would have pictures of snowmen in Terracotta Army-esque rows, hot cocoa sales would plummet, and Santa would make his annual rounds in Hawaiian shirts and Birkenstocks.

Moving on, I can't remember exactly where I ran across this little theory, but I think it was somehow linked to a video I watched on the chemistry of attraction between people. The video dealt with the various explosions that go on inside our skulls when we're around loved ones or people that intrigue us. It made for an interesting evening that would have otherwise been busily spent being alone and wishing that I had an army of cats that I could name after the main characters of Bonanza.

Hoss. HOSS! I saw that! Don't you smack Little Joe, you naughty wittle kitty! That's a bad kitty!

And yes. They would all wear tiny cowboy hats. Always.

At some point in this video, I came across an interview with a gentleman that was explaining his thoughts on a mean (not angry, but average) level of happiness that people seem to orbit. Undoubtedly, people have their up and down days, but ultimately, he proposed, people return to a reoccurring level of happiness. I'm sure there is an official title for this, as well as piles of research for and against it, but I do know that it seemed to have some lasting effect on me. If a person could cognitively be aware of where their level was, and thus make efforts to improve or restrain that said level, could a person's happiness be determinate upon their will? Or can someone really point to the cold, dark days of winter and say with a certainty that it was a lack of interaction with the sun chemically altering their brain and making them incapable of appreciating anything (I'd like to take this time to recognize whoever coined the term Seasonal Affective Disorder. We get it. It's acronym is SAD. Good job, you clever devil, you.).

There certainly is a link here between each side (Disclaimer: I'm not a big fan of today's practice of prescribing pills for everything, especially when there is not direct linkage between the medication and desired outcome).
I don't think someone can simply wake up and say to themselves, "Selves, today, come what may, we're going to be completely happy." Nor do I think that some light therapy, a few spoonfuls of Vitamin D, and some prescription pills mark the path to happiness. There is also no magnificent Do-This-and-You-Will-Be-Eternally-Joyous theory for everyone to follow, despite the people's clamor for such a theory. It's something that one must discover individually.

I do think a possible answer lies somewhere in the social factor needed to keep us human. Interactions with people these days has become somewhat of a rare and special occurrence. A fair number of people are running on their time, which is of course more important than your time, and have little patience for any of life's hiccups. What's this? You left out the cinnamon dust on my latte? My six-year-old son will now be late for yoga. THAT GIVES ME LICENSE TO YELL AT YOU AD NAUSEUM (furthering our lateness?). RAWR.

People are connected 24/7 through their smartphones* and simply cannot wait to see who has last poked them. Sometimes, they also determine that this poke is somewhat more important than, say, driving their car. Then laws are made to keep people from destroying one another, tickets are issued, and cops are labeled as jerks with nothing better to do.

All I'm asking for is that you take time in your day to think of others. Thank your grocer for bagging your groceries. Show patience for others. Leave a thank you note for your mail carrier. Smile and wave (all of your fingers, not just one) at the person that used their blinker when merging. After reading a fun and entertaining blog, give the author a high-five the next time you see them. I know that this has all been preached before, but seriously, in these little interactions there can be a sort of karmic, if not a self-sustaining, reward.

I have enjoyed writing this all down, even despite the fact that it makes me out to be somewhat of a crotchety old man complaining about the good ol' days. I don't mind. Also, get off my porch, you meddling kids. Make note that I have not lost faith in society, not by a long shot, and there are many, many people out there that devote their lives to others and get little thanks or recognition.

For those of you that made it this far, thank you for reading. Again, it was a pleasure to write and I pray that it also was a worthwhile read for others.


"The Windup Girl" by Paolo Bacigalupi

Tunes, or rather, songs that popped up on Pandora while writing:
"Can't You See" - The Marshall Tucker Band
"Ruby Sees All" - Cake
"Asleep in the Chapel" - Thursday

*heavy sarcasm intended

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