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.

Drop the Rock

November 14, 2010

Drop the Rock

Drop the Rock

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

A snap quiz for today…

Question: What’s the best way to walk with a large rock? *

Life is rarely described as easy, but at times, if some of us were judged solely by our behaviors, one could conclude that we prefer a hell that’s familiar to a heaven we’d have to get used to.

Today’s quiz reminds me to ask: What’s my rock made of? What am I getting out of carrying it? Would life be better without it? Do I need help putting it down (letting go)? How do I ask for help? When the help is offered—do I accept it?

“Boy, you’re gonna carry that weight, carry that weight a long time.” — The Beatles

Happy trails!

* PS: Answer: Drop the rock.


Seventh Step Memo

July 18, 2009

Seventh Step Memo

Seventh Step Memo

Greetings, fellow trudgers “on the road to happy destiny.”

I was in a lively phone conversation yesterday, but in a state of exuberance and enthusiasm—excitement. I wasn’t present. A slip of the tongue, and the reaction was swift – a not-so-pleasant but helpful reminder that my sanity and serenity depends on my willingness to let go of more than just the negative stuff—compulsions, obsessions, neuroses, habitual bad behavior—I also have to give up some aspects of me I’m pretty attached to: like thinking fast, talking fast, approaching all of life with a lets-go, get-it-done attitude, instead of considering, listening—and just being.

In terms of twelve-step recovery, I used to think of Steps 4 and 9 as the tough ones, but the two short and rather innocent sounding Steps Six and Seven are, in my opinion, the ones where the rubber truly meets the road (or, as Bill Wilson wrote in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, these “separate the men from the boys”).

One reason might be that, as I’ve heard, “there’s no help available other than perfect help.” I’m not being instructed to hand over alcoholism, addiction, or codependency, or ask a Higher Power to remove personality traits I may find temporarily unpleasant. As the saying goes, “God doesn’t need your alcohol, drugs or insanity.”

I take these steps to mean that if I want what the people who have recovered seem to have, I’m left with no option but to surrender my entire self and engage in this process fully and to the best of my ability, surrendering the whole shebang.

Happy trails!

PS  The Sixth Step reads “6. Were entirely ready to have God remove these defects of character.”

The Sixth Step Prayer reads: “Dear God, I am ready for Your help in removing from me the defects of character, which I now realize are an obstacle to my recovery. Help me to continue being honest with myself, and guide me toward spiritual and mental health.”

The Seventh Step reads “7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”

The (actual) Seventh Step prayer reads: “My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding.”