Writing Upside Down

Sometimes I wonder how I can write something ‘up’, when I’m feeling ‘down’. I’m sure everyone has experienced less than positive feelings from time to time. My solution is to write a list of all the things in life, for which I’m grateful. (Robert Burns said something about hating the “language of complaint.”) Because everyone’s list is often hidden, you may have to look hard for it. Once you get going, however, it’s quite remarkable how long the list can be.

My list includes:

  • A loving wife and special kids…  who love us back!
  • Comparatively good health
  • Terrific grandchildren
  • Friends: “Do not have a 100 Rubles, have a 100 Friends.” (paraphrased Russian proverb)
  • Writing this, now

So, what’s your glass-half-full list look like, and how often do you count them? I think if we’re truly honest, we would find lots of reasons to count ourselves lucky. Some people will always see their glass as half empty; but, they should remember the words of Helen Keller’s famous quote about crying because she had no shoes until she met a man who had no feet.

A few years ago, The Smile Epidemic – a noncommercial organization – introduced a website that enables you to track and share what makes you happy. You go on a 30-day mental diet – weeding out negative thinking and developing an ‘attitude of gratitude.’ My eight-year-old grandson, Kolton, is happy playing hockey, baking cookies and beating me at computer games; but, I know what makes him ticklish.

Some may say that children can afford to feel this happy, because they don’t know any better. As adults, we know that there are real problems… misguided people exist… innocent people die. And, 24/7 news channels respond to this… our unquenchable thirst to know… by recycling often disturbing world events, making everywhere seem dangerous. No wonder people become cynical. But, the world is actually a beautiful place.

And, children’s hearts haven’t yet been changed by the world’s harshness.

Let’s encourage them; because, as Mother Teresa of Calcutta explained, as essential as food and medicine is, only love can cure the worst disease that any human being can ever experience: that of being unwanted. From children, we learn that perfect love means unconditional acceptance. We may dispute it; but, how do we feel when meeting those rare, loving people who truly care for others? I find it’s embarrassing to find that I’ve not always acted like them. Not that love is about saying “yes” all the time. Sometimes love is tough; but, it’s there.

And, when it comes to dealing with ordinary folks – which includes 99% of us –  then we can’t afford to have harden hearts. In his song ‘Bullet Proof’, Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy described himself as careless, cruel and easily bruised. How many of us can similarly admit to being half of the problem? Still, Burns had a knack for summing things up best… asking, A decent means of livelihood in the world, an approving God, a peaceful conscience, and one firm trusty friend – can anybody that has these be said to be unhappy?”

The Music In Me by Fred Parry
January, 2018

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