Monday, March 7, 2011

The Less Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

Let's face it.  Things suck.

Unless you're Bill Gates or Warren Buffet or one of that ilk, you're probably worried about job security, saving for retirement, putting kids through college or buying an iPad 2.  (If you are one of that ilk, please email me.  I have a proposition.)

And then there's infrastructure.  Our roads and bridges are falling apart.  Public education stinks.  Even sixth graders are not smarter than a fifth grader.  And let's not forget long lines to renew our driver's licenses.  And all the crap on TV.  And the Internet's too slow.  And the ice caps are melting.

In such gloomy times, it's difficult to be blithely optimistic.  All the age-old advice to "put on a happy face" and "always look on the bright side of life" (ok, those are more show tunes than advice) seems hollow and superficial.  You wonder what kind of simpleton could  believe in this, and why you still use words like "simpleton."

And yet, I find that at such trying times, the best way to look at life is ... to look at life.  Really.  Just stop and look.

If you're reading this (as I suspect you are), you're probably using a computer.  There's a vast source of entertainment and information literally at your fingertips.

You probably also own a car.  Think about that.  You can climb into this little box, and go from place to place.  Even if you're stuck in traffic, you can sit and listen to the radio and pick your nose while you wait. And all for just twenty to sixty thousand dollars or so, plus fuel and maintenance.

If you can get to a wooded place, you can lean against a tree and watch squirrels and birds.  Oh, and bugs.  You can contemplate the beauty and timelessness of nature.  What a great way to relax!  (But watch out for the bugs.)

Personally, I derive happiness from accomplishment.  I tend to be happy when I or a loved one has accomplished something.  Finished a big project at work?  Achieved a personal goal?  If you're a parent, remember your child's first potty success?  Euphoria!

So when you're feeling overwhelmed by the pressures of today's life, remember to stop, drop and roll.  No wait.  That's fire safety.  I mean stop, look and listen.  Or, in the immortal words of Qui-Gon Jinn, "Concentrate on the moment."

There.  That's done.

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