I’m happy to be alive, and being alive hasn’t always filled me with joy. Nowadays, though, I’m beginning to see how most of the things we believe and act on are almost completely arbitrary and based on the flimsiest of tenets, and usually on what somebody told us once upon a time when we were young and impressionable. Finding that out was a big relief.
By happy to be alive, I don’t mean that every aspect of my life is hunky-dory. I mean that I’m enjoying life as a process more than I used to. I suppose our lives can have a purpose, but I no longer think that a purpose is a necessary prerequisite to smiling, and smiling is my current goal.
Once I stopped expecting perfection from myself, I learned to give myself a break, especially since those breaks were the only breaks I could count on. And every time I gave myself a break I smole, which ought to be the past tense of smile.
So now I smile about stuff that I use to ignore or miss entirely. For instance, I was recently under the erroneous impression that the mother of a friend of mine was named “Louise,” when actually she’s a “Lucille,” like B.B. King’s guitar (which factoid is now my fool-proof mnemonic device). Rather than let me fend for myself the next time I saw them, my friend introduced us all over again, avoiding a sure gaffe, and causing me to swoon with appreciation for her thoughtfulness, smiling all the while. I think swoon is the word, too.
Smiling is one reason I’ve stopped listening to a particular radio show that used to be a regular habit for me. The show is exhaustively informative about a wide range of awfulness, but I don’t think of information as a good thing per se, even if it’s accurate and up-to-the-minute. It seems there’s hardly an injustice or organized violence anywhere that this show doesn’t cover, approximately none of which I can do anything about except complain, and complaining doesn’t make me smile, so I stopped listening. Now and then I listen to it still, sometimes just to see if it’s the same. After I listen for a while I remember why I stopped, and I smile.
I know several people the thought of whom can make me smile, which just tickles me so, I can’t begin to tell you, because it’s a good way to cheer myself up, and I spend much of my time cheering myself up. Sometimes I make my computer’s desktop a slide show of my pictures folder, and I get to see again all those people long dead and gone, including my parents and aunts and uncles and now more and more my schoolmates. They’re dropping like flies, and seeing them like I remember them makes me smile.
And I see pictures of me, then a very small person, vulnerable and innocent and finally worthy, and that really makes me smile.