Ta-Dah! List

December 30, 2010

My Ta-Dah! List

My Ta-Dah! List

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of Happy Destiny”…

Like a lot of us, I agonize over “To-Do” lists. Didn’t finish this, procrastinated that, interrupted on this, couldn’t afford to that, chickened out on this, overwhelmedoverworked… blah-blah-blah-de blah.

A friend pointed out that children don’t spend much time on To-Do lists. Instead, when they do something great, they stand up, stretch out their arms, and with a big grin shout: “Ta-Daaaaahhh!!”

And so, as we near the end of December, the end of 2010, even the end of the decade (one referred to as the “oughts,”) I offer a different list: My “Ta-Dah” list!

I hope in writing down what we DID do in 2010, we’ll each be pleasantly surprised by what we find. First thing I put on my list: that I made this list: “Ta-Daaaaahhh!!”

Happy New Year, and Happy Trails!

PS  The Happy Trudger wishes to express deep thanks for the hundreds of acknowledgments received this year. It’s a delight to be of service and connected to you in spirit.

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Treasure the Moment

December 22, 2010

Treasure the Moment

Treasure the Moment

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of Happy Destiny”…

In the midst of holiday frustrations this year, I stopped and wrote on a Post-It note “Treasure the Moment.”

Worried that I’d forget, I stuck it on the fridge.

Then I thought “which moment?” The moment I wrote the note? The moment I put it on the fridge? The moment I read it? What about 10 moments later? Before that? Which moment is the moment? How many moments are there? (As you may have noticed, the inside of my head is a noisy place.)

The answer I come to (again and again) is there’s only one moment: it’s now.

One cool thing: there are no regrets, resentments, shame, worry or fear in now. Resentments are in the past (the word “resent” comes from the Latin “re,” again, or back and “sentir,” to sense or feel — literally, to “feel again.”) I only regret things that have come and gone. Ashamed? I can’t be ashamed of what hasn’t happened yet. Worry and fear? I may be scared, but only of what I think is going to happen (unless I happen to be in the middle of a car crash, in which case fear is decidedly “in the moment”).

What’s more, I imagined the whole thing. Past and Future are constructs imagined by the brain to make sense of our experiences in a linear time-line. Most animals can’t do it — it’s largely the province of humans.

Technically speaking, at least, there is no past. There is no future. The only thing that is — is right now.

So, just for today, I can treasure it. Maybe I do something in this moment that’s good for me, even if I don’t want to do it. Maybe I choose to do something completely different, just because it’s different — for me. Maybe I notice that this moment is filled with tiny miracles, if I choose to look at it that way.

However it goes, living my day this way leaves me speechless with appreciation, gratitude, joy and fulfillment — provided I don’t let the moment — This Magic Moment, if you believe The Drifters — go by unnoticed.

Seasons Greetings, and Happy Trails!

* PS  If the art looks familiar, it’s because in an ongoing effort to be green, my holiday greeting cards are always made entirely from 100% recycled ideas.

Queen for a Day

December 20, 2010

Queen for a Day

Queen for a Day

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of Happy Destiny”…

Are you old enough to remember the TV show “Queen for a Day?” It’s my front-runner for “sickest game show of all time.”

On air in the 50’s and 60’s, it was hosted by one-time carnival barker Jack Bailey. The female-only contestants took turns telling the live audience their life story. Typically, each tale was one of unspeakable woe, complete with paralyzed children, finacial crises, dead spouses, health disasters and impending doom in general.

Afterward, Bailey would hold his hand over each woman’s head and ask the audience to clap for the one who had the most moving, wretched account of misery and tragedy. The “Clap-Meter” would register who got the loudest applause and that woman would be crowned “Queen for a Day.” The Queen would then be crowned, wrapped in fur and seated on a throne by scantily-clad models. Prizes included wheelchairs, appliances, hospital beds, and hundreds of other sponsored products.

And no, I am not making this up.

I LOVED Queen for a Day.* I still play it! I might take turns with a friend, competing over how many awful things have happened to us so far that day. If I hear a stranger complain in a store, I might see it as an obvious invitation to top it with worse grievances. When some well-intentioned poor soul asks “How are you?” I might forget that in most cases, it’s a rhetorical question. I’ll grab the opportunity to spin out my “Injustices of the Week” candidates.

And so on. No cash or prizes, really, other than a look on the other person’s face that says “Wow — it must suck to be you.” Yay — I win! That, and the feelings of justification over the mountains of resentments or self-pity I’ve accrued.

It’s a hell of a way to live, folks.

So, I’m boycotting today’s episode of Queen for a Day. I’m skipping over sharing Prayers of Pity, practicing Sympathy-Sucking 101, or writing the screenplay to The Never-Ending Bummer.

Instead, I’m going to do what has been suggested to me by people who appear to be far happier than I am: I’m focusing on Acceptance (of what is), Gratitude (for what I have), and Humility — (sadly, AGH is not a great acronym) which I currently define as “doing the next right thing, with grace.” If I run into you, I’ll let you know how the day is going.

Happy trails!

* PS  According to Wikipedia, as was customary practice for networks of the time, the films for the series Queen for a Day were destroyed. Only eight episodes are known to have survived, including one special segment (guest-hosted by the actor Adolph Menjou) which allowed a “King for a Day” to finally get in his fair share of kvetching.

Over the Rainbow

December 11, 2010

Over The Rainbow

Over The Rainbow

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of Happy Destiny”…

The lyrics to Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high,
There’s a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.

Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly.
Birds fly over the rainbow.
Why then, oh why can’t I? *

If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can’t I? *

May your troubles melt like lemon drops.

Happy Trails!

* PS Put another way…

“If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.They will always materialize if we work for them.”

Original photograph by Virgil Apger