Category Archives: happiness

An Unexpected Gift 

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This post is a movie review for Thor : Ragnarok , though I don’t really plan on talking about the movie very much.   It was an excellent comic book movie in the same tongue-in-cheek comedy tradition as Guardians of the Galaxy.   It made me laugh and made me cheer.   It was the best of that kind of movie.  But it wasn’t the most important thing that happened that night.

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You see, I spent the weekend in the hospital thinking I had suffered a heart attack during the Thanksgiving holiday. I thought I was facing surgery at the very least.   I knew I might have had an appointment to play chess with the Grim Reaper.   It is a lot to worry about and drain all the fun out of life.

Well, one of the things that happened that day, Tuesday, my first full day out of the hospital and, hopefully, out of the woods over heart attacks, was that I received my new replacement bank card because my old one had a worn out, malfunctioning chip in it.  So, I took my three kids to the movie at the cheapest place we could find.  I tried to run my bank card for the payment, and it was summarily declined.  I had activated it previously during the day, and there was plenty of money in the account compared to the price, but it just wouldn’t take.  So I had to call Wells Fargo to find out whatever the new reason was for them to hate me.  It turned out that it had already been activated, but a glitch had caused it to decline the charge.  While I was talking to the girl from the Wells Fargo help desk, the lady who had gotten her and her husband’s tickets right before us put four tickets to the movie in my hand.

The middle-aged black couple had lingered by the ticket stand before going in to their movie just long enough to see a sad-looking old man with raggedy author’s beard and long Gandalf hair get turned down by the cheap-cinema ticket-taking teenager because the old coot’s one and only bank card was declined. They were moved to take matters into their own hands and paid for our tickets themselves.

That, you see, was the gift from my title.  Not so much that we got our movie tickets for free, but that the world still works that way.  There are still good people with empathetic and golden hearts willing to step in and do things to make the world a little bit better place.  The gift they gave me was the reassurance that, as bad and black as the world full of fascists that we have come to live in has become, it still has goodness and fellow feeling in it. People are still moved to pay things forward and make good on the promise to “love one another”.  I did not have a chance to thank them properly.  I was on the phone with Wells Fargo girl when it happened.  The only thing that couple got out of their good deed was thank-yous from my children and the knowledge that they had done something wonderful.  I plan to pay it forward as soon as I have the opportunity.  Not out of guilt or obligation, but because I need to be able to feel that feeling too at some point.

I do have one further gift to offer the world.

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After we got home from the movie, I opened an email that contained the cover proof for my novel, Magical Miss Morgan.  Soon I will have that in print also if I can keep Page Publishing from messing it up at the last moments before printing.  It is a novel about what a good teacher is and does.  It is the second best thing I have ever written.

Sometimes the gifts that you most desperately need come in unexpected fashion.

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That Bluebird of Happiness

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I often go back and re-read old posts, particularly when I discover that someone else has read them.  It is amazing to me how differently I perceive things from when I actually wrote the post.  As you write, squeezing huge, boulder-sized portions of hot, magma-like burning ideas and passions out through writing orifices not nearly big enough to accommodate, you usually hate what you wrote and are still writhing in pain from the creation of it as you try to edit it, trim it and brush its unruly hair.  (How’s that for a mixed metaphor to make you cringe?)  But given time and distance, you can really appreciate what you wrote more than ever before.  Things that you thought were the stupidest idea a man ever put in words suddenly have the power to make you laugh, or make you cry.  You are able to feel the things the writing was intended to make you feel.  You begin to think things like, “Maybe you are not the worst writer that ever lived, and maybe that’s not why nobody ever reads your books.”  But then, of course, your sister reads the post and tells you that you write like a really old, really crabby, really ancient old man.  And you use the word “really” too much too.  I know I deserve that, Sis.  Especially the “really” part.

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Here’s a post that I reread and liked today about Bob Ross.

This is the thing about happiness;  It is elusive and rare as a real-life blue bird. But capturing it for a moment is not impossible.  And as long as you don’t try to salt its tail and keep it prisoner, you can encourage it to sing for you.  (Much better metaphor this time, don’t you think?)  vintage-coca-cola-ad-1950s-1960s-clownb

When I am accused of being gloomy, old, and boring, I can happily admit it and make it into something funny.  I am something of a conspiracy nut, but not so serious that I believe all my own assertions.  For those people who took offense at this conspiracy theory of mine; Coca-Cola Mind Control, I would like to point out that “Hey, I was joking.  I actually like clowns.”  Even though there is a serious side to everything and there can’t be laughter without some tears, I am basically happy with the way things are.

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I started listening to “Live Happy Radio” on Sunday mornings on KLUV in Dallas.  They point out on their program of endlessly droning happy-talk that happiness is something that you can work at.  Like humor writing in blogs, it takes practice and practice and time.  They even asked me to share the word about their happy magazine and products, so I am doing exactly that right here.  Sometimes you simply have to put your cynicism in a jar on the shelf next to the lock box where you keep depression and self-loathing.  So you can find their Live-Happy folderol right here.

So I am bird-watching again with an eye out for the bluebird.  You know the one.  It is out there somewhere.  And I need to hear that song one more time.

Blue birds

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Better Daze

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I finished the picture of Dunderella and the Wolf Girl.  I suppose it isn’t much of a picture, but it has inspired a story.  Dunderella is the clumsiest Storybook in the fairy kingdom of Tellosia.  The Wolf Girl is supposedly her friend whom she talks to when nobody else is around, but it is very possible that they are the same fairy, just two different personalities, one of which is only encountered by others during the full moon.

Finishing something in the midst of a miasma of misfortune, unfinished projects, and illness counts as a turn for the better.  Doesn’t it?

And the football Cardinals, whom I have loved since they were in St. Louis when I was a kid and fledgling football fan, won yesterday.  Sure, they had a 38 to 20 lead that turned into 38 to 33 by the end of the fourth quarter, but they won instead of losing like they have three times in the previous five games.  And it was partly because they now have future Hall-of-Famer Adrian Petersen on their team.  He scored two touchdowns in his Cardinal debut.

And it didn’t hurt that Carson Palmer, the Cardinal Quarterback, threw three touchdowns, something he hasn’t done in a while.

So things are looking better in Mickey land.  I still have a great deal of back pain.  I still can’t seem to get signed up properly to be an Uber driver.  I still haven’t seen progress on my novel with Page Publishing.  But yesterday proved good things can still happen too.

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In Your Wildest Dreams

Once upon a time… I remember skies…

Yes, I do believe the Moody Blues deserve a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Because once I had dreams.  I had dreams of great beauty.  I had dreams of knowing the Truth with a capital “T”.  And they played the background music to my youth.  To my days of “Nights in White Satin”.

And I remember skies…  I have seen the same skies that Vincent saw… all swirling passion and spirals of light into darkness.

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It is all mystical… and a total mystery to those who have never opened that extra eye that makes everything clear… that chases the clouds away.  The lyrics have meaning that… every time I think about them, the music playing in the background of the theater in my head… means something new, something more than it did… the last time that I listened.

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The place that I was born into… the place that grew me into who I am… is represented by a color of sky… a pastel mood… a gentle blue thought.  Ellipsis instead of commas because something… is left out.  More could be said… should be said… and is still there… but only implied.

“Why do you paste all this music into your post, Mickey dear?”

“All the letters I’ve written… never meaning to send… mean… I love you.”

“But, Mickey, who are you talking to?  And why are you crying?”

“I am talking to you, to all of you, and everything… but you won’t understand, never reaching the end.  Life is music.  Music is love.  All of it is beautiful.  And I have had so much of it… that I am drunk on its wine.”

“It almost seems poetic, when you say it like that… I like the Moody Blues… but don’t mess with the lyrics so much.  They are beautiful the way they are.”

“But don’t you see?  Mixing and meddling and rearranging, is what it’s all about.  It’s how you make the old messages… new.”

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Why Do You Think That? Part 5

On a sleepy summer Sunday it is only natural to think thoughts about God.  And I have to include Jesus and Christianity in all of that meditation.  After all, as a boy I attended Sunday school on Sunday morning in the Rowan Methodist Church and then would attend the Sunday service with my mother and father, brother, and two sisters.  We would sing songs from the Methodist hymnal.

But here’s the kicker.  Over time I have studied and learned science, how the world really works, and how people really act.  I have noticed that most of the most intelligent writers, scientists, and thinkers are atheists and agnostics.  I have had to make my peace with these things;

  • There is no life after death.
  • Jesus may not have been a real person.
  • If he was real, he had very little in common with the Jesus we worship.
  • Jesus doesn’t need to be real to have value in my life.
  • There is no white-haired old man sitting on a throne in heaven.
  • There is no heaven.
  • If there is no heaven, then there certainly is no hell.
  • We are all connected… even those of us who don’t live on this planet, in this galaxy.

So I guess, that makes me an atheist who believes in the existence of God.  And because of this moronic oxymoron, my thesis now has to be; Even atheists have a need for religion.

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Saint Raphael

Yes, when it comes to religion, I am an idiot.  Just like all the rest of you are.  Mark Twain once said something like, “Religion is the firmly held belief in what you know ain’t so.”  That misquote, of course, is taken entirely on faith from a vague memory of a passage in the short story “Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven”

Of course, I am not saying that I find no value in religion.  I was associated with Jehovah’s Witnesses for almost twenty years because that was the religion my wife clings to.  They are a Bible-based religion with a strict literalist interpretation of scripture who are expecting the end of the world, this “wicked system of things” at any moment now and go around knocking on doors and giving away free Bible literature with their own Truth professionally printed to save as many of the unbelievers as possible.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have never really fully accepted what they believe.  But I have freely participated.  Their belief system makes them some of the most loving, self-sacrificing people you could ever meet.  They are non-violent and believe in helping everybody no matter how far they have to bend over backwards to do it.  There are very good things in the Bible about living a moral life that are absolutely true and will make you and your children into better people.  But here’s the most important thing about living that kind of life.  If you are doing it for the promised rewards of eternal life, then you are doing it wrong.  The goodness you do in this life and the love you both give and receive is the only heaven there is.  Hardship taken on as a sacrifice to a loving God gets you nothing but the feeling that you have done the right thing.  But let me assure you, that feeling is a treasure greater than fine gold.  That mental state you create for yourself is the whole point and purpose of religion.

 

I do realize that liars are the people most likely to say, “Believe me…” before telling you something is true, but believe me, I don’t expect you to accept my cold clinical dissection of what religion is in my world view.  I want you to believe whatever you believe is true about Jesus, Jehovah, Allah, or Budda…  or nirvana or existentialism or science.  I accept you and love you for who you are.  The important thing is that we are all connected.  Most religions make us nicer to each other and make us more loving and kind, as long as we are not allowing ourselves to fall victim to the dark side that exists in every religion.  When your religion tells you to hate something, especially when it tells you to do something to punish that something you hate, especially especially if that something you hate is another person of some kind, then that’s where Eve is biting the apple, that’s where all the trouble starts.

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Don’t let atheists tell you they don’t believe in anything.  I hear Neal DeGrasse Tyson talk about being made of star stuff and teach about the connections we have with everything in the universe.  Listen to him yourself on Cosmos talking about the wonders of science and the human quest to know, and tell me if you don’t hear hymns to God in his reverent explanations.  He just knows God in a different form than you do.

So here is my humble conclusion on a sleepy summer Sunday morning when my meditations drift back to a boyhood of telling Jesus jokes in the down-time during Sunday school.  I am an atheist who believes in a loving God.  And even atheists need God in their life.

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Pez Head

If you have seen any of my numerous posts about dolls or old books or even, you guessed it, Pez dispensers, you know how badly I am gifted with hoarding disorder.  You know the disease.  Every old string-saving grandpa or scrap-booking maiden aunt you had as a kid had it.  Piles and piles of useless and pointless things all neatly stacked and sorted somewhere in the house, or possibly garage… lurking like a monster of many pieces waiting to take over the whole house.

I can’t help it.  Collections have to be completed.  If you see it and you don’t already have it, you must possess it.  Twenty-seven cents short of the full price with tax included?  Go out to the car and dig in the cup holder.  Oops!  Can’t part with those particular State Quarters.  Will they take that many pennies?  Have to try.

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Lately I have been victimized by a combination of my disorder and the fact that Toys-R-Us is a convenient restroom stop on the rush-hour drive along I-35 to pick up the Princess at her high school in Carrollton, Texas and my son Henry at his school in Lewisville, Texas.  It is a killer two hours and I need to go potty at the halfway point.  And I can’t make my way to the restroom without passing the Pez dispenser display.  And I can’t pass the Pez dispenser display without… well, you know.

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What can I say?  I’m diabetic.  I have to visit the restroom frequently.

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And they do look good on my bookshelves with a lot of the other junk I collect.

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And not all of these are new, bought some time this school year.  In fact, not most of them.

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And they only cost a couple of dollars each.

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And I do resist the urge to buy one once in a while… honest, I really do.

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And see here?  Only Minnie Mouse and Pluto  on this shelf are new.  And how could I leave this collection without Minnie and Pluto?

And it’s not like butterfly collecting, which I shamefully admit I did as a kid.  You don’t kill and mount Pez dispensers.  Although I admit, I really don’t know for sure how their factory works.

But I also have to admit, Pez dispensers aren’t the only thing that turns my collecting urge up to the highest possible settings.

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So don’t hate me for hoarding.  If you’re worried, all of these things are available in stores too.  And I have worked on my photographicalizing skills a bit to share them with you.  And who knows where these treasures will end up when I pass on to the cartoonist’s paint box in the sky?  My daughter has vowed not to let them end up in a landfill somewhere.  Somebody will play with them and love them when I’m finally done.  MAYBE EVEN FUTURE GRANDCHILDREN.   There is a possibility, you know… always a possibility.

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New Stuff Happens Here

Well, Spring is sproinging with a great green ferocity.  The wisteria that is eating the corner of the house by the pool is blooming.  The pool is full of winter rainwater and must be drained before it begins to bloom millions of mosquitoes.

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So, I rented a pump and started to drain the swamp.  (Yes, I know I could make a joke here about somebody orange who promised to drain the swamp and is instead putting swamp monsters in it…  He got his Supreme Court Scalia Dragon added to the murky deeps of dollar politics yesterday… but I won’t because I hate how the Twitter Baby in Chief is always filling my perceptions with dirty diaper business.)

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I collected some neat new Pez dispensers by stopping at Toys-R-Us to use the restroom halfway through my daily rush-hour trek to pick up my son from his school in Lewisville.

I found Fluttershy to complete the My Little Pony set, and I picked up all three of the Smurfs.  Brainy Smurf is my favorite Smurf because I like the way he constantly gets put down when he is trying to be too smart for his own britches.  It’s really nice when that happens to somebody who isn’t me.

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And when, at midday, I got so stuck in traffic I had to stop and take a break in Hobby Lobby’s air conditioning, I found some HO scale dragons, Pegasus, and a unicorn to add to the denizens of Toonerville.

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So life has generally been good to me, even when it is a little bit bad.

 

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