Something New

My column for this week’s paper incorporates a couple of blog posts I wrote in the last week or so but in a new way–so thank you for persevering through some repeated “wisdom” slanted a new way:

September

September (Photo credit: Helgi Halldórsson/Freddi)

   The nostalgia that September and the new school year brings is so palatable, you can almost taste it. It is something that probably 98% of us share. Yet we tend to remember school in idealized terms—the new clothes for the first day, the new books and pencils, the sharpened pencil crayons and shiny new math set all meant that we had a new chance to begin again. And beginnings are exciting. Every September during our school age years was another chance to be the brightest and best. I had a spotty academic career—I lost a few years in teenage angst, but I came back, brought my grades up and spent what I look back on now as wonderful years at university.

            I was perhaps an odd duck when it came to school. In grade school I was always in the top 10, usually the top five in my class. But high school changed that and it took me a few years to adapt, to realize that I had to study. I still got by because I could write a mean essay—but that did not bode well for French class, math, science, or an ill-fated attempt to learn shorthand (I thought that would be easier than Latin—but it wasn’t for me). I still regret not putting a little more effort into those classes—but it was history and English, political science and sociology that caught my interest and by grades 12 and 13, I was back to getting good grades, once I got to leave behind those pesky subjects that did not come “naturally”.

                I am again excited come this September—but this time for my youngest son, who will be taking a “graduate” course at college in communications and public relations. He has a business marketing college diploma under his belt, but he was not all that enamoured with the course. His new program looks exciting in the syllabus and I think it is right up his alley—and I am playing the encouraging parent to the hilt—or at least as much as I think he can put up with. He too, though, is pretty happy about the new courses.

            We all need a challenge. When we went to school, each year was a new challenge, but as adults we have to set our own course, find new things to conquer, new things to learn. The latest challenge I have set for myself is to learn to “Let It Be”—those wonderful words of wisdom from the Beatles. And in doing so I am going to put this little exercise to work. It comes from the book, “One Minute Mindfulness” by Donald Altman. His subtitle: “50 simple ways to find peace, clarity, and new possibilities in a stressed-out world,” caught my attention, because let’s face it, who doesn’t want peace and clarity?

            Anyway, the exercise is this: “For one minute during the day, let go of one belief or behaviour that you typically cling to. If you always eat all the food on your plate, leave some and learn how to let it be. If you normally expect your partner to do something in a certain way, try to take on the task yourself or surrender to the way it is even if you don’t feel it’s as it should be. Let it be. Every day, let one more thing be, just for the fun of it.”I do not always eat everything on my plate so it is the second half of his exercise I have to concentrate on: Let it be. Not as simple as it sounds. At all.

            I have come to the realization that just because something purports to be simple, it does not mean it is easy. Simple and easy are not synonyms even if my thesaurus disagrees with me.  Simple and wise concepts are sometimes the hardest things to apply. They seem straightforward. How much more straightforward could something be than to “Let it be”? But how many of us can actually incorporate this into our lives?

            While I will not be returning to a school of mortar and bricks this September, I will be continuing my education in an ongoing effort to improve myself, my situation in life, and my endeavour to do what Oscar Wilde calls the rarest thing in life: to live. Here he says it in his own inimitable way: “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”

            I don’t think Wilde was having a good day when he said this, although I do not think he was known for his sunny disposition as he had challenges of his own. So I will take his words and combine it with the Beatles’ sage advice, and learn to: “Live and let it be”, rather than take the James Bond attitude, “Live and let die.”

Published in: on August 26, 2013 at 12:35 pm  Comments (14)  
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~Wise Words from John Lennon’s Mother~

John Lennon

John Lennon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I saw a quote on another *blog this morning and just had to have it on mine. I absolutely love it and it is the essence of all I believe in. John Lennon’s mother was truly a wise woman, and he was truly a wise man for taking her at her word.

He said: “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”  

It seems that we are forever striving for this illusive thing called happiness. It is not a trivial pursuit or it would not be in the American Declaration of Independence. It says that along with life and liberty, the pursuit of happiness is an inalienable right. If that doesn’t make it important, I don’t know what would–we need something like that in Canada’s Constitution (maybe we do–I will have to look into this.)

Yesterday my post was a bit self-serving—I was feeling sorry for myself, and not looking beyond a minor transgression. Today is a new day. Today I am going to grow up and be what John Lennon said he wanted to be when he grew up: Happy.

I know it does not happen just because I want it to happen (or does it?) but it is a much better way to live than the alternative. Stuff happens, I know this—but I have decided to start to be Pollyanna-ish. If you reread her books, you will find that she was not so much an optimist as a pragmatist—the girl was really pretty logical. And it is only logical to me to want to be happy.

This post is as much for me as it is for you. We all need to pursue this thing called happiness, as much as we pursue success, money, careers, and whatever else we desire.

My definition of happiness takes in the usual suspects: joy, contentment, and pleasure. But even when those things seem to be missing, I look forward to the next time “something unexpectedly pleasant happens”. It is these times that make our rather haphazard roller coaster ride on this terra firma we call earth, worthwhile.

I am ready to be happy—how about you?

*www.jumpforjoyphotoproject.com

 

Published in: on October 11, 2012 at 2:24 pm  Comments (50)  
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