Don't Make Yourself Unhappy When Forcing Yourself to be Happy
If you think positively, positive things will happen.
If you think happy thoughts, you will be happy.
Only you can make you happy.
Common wisdom posits that coincidences do not exist despite constantly experiencing this event, idiomatically assuming "everything happens for a reason." You can see the thought destination where we assign causes that may or may not have anything to do with said coincidence. This black-and-white thinking correctly assumes magical thinking is the culprit but overlooks the element of truth guiding this irrationality that answers how to be happy.
There Are No Coincidences Or, Then Again, Maybe There Are
On October 24, 1997 my stepson, who’d been suffering, truly deeply suffering, from persecutory hallucinations brought on by Schizophrenia, hung himself from the deck of our house.
After cutting him down by slicing through the red strap that he’d used, despite my best efforts at CPR, he was gone.
He had left behind a sweet, thoughtful, loving note addressed to his mother and me, both apologizing and explaining.
That was a very bad day. I’ve never really recovered, nor, of course, has his mother nor has our son Jesse, who was the first to see Eric hanging there, still as a branch on that windless day.
Jump ahead one year, minus a single day, to Oct 23, 1998.
With the first anniversary of Eric’s death the next day, a day of such heartbreak and pain looming over the coming weekend, I went to the mailbox and received a letter from Toni Markiet, Senior Editor at HarperCollins kids’ Books.
She was offering me a generous advance and a contract to publish my first novel.
I’d been writing for 30 years, wanting this, working for this and, by this time, all but certain that it would never happen. I was nearly 51 years old.
I rushed to the college where my wife Patti was teaching, barged into her class and waved the letter in front of her.
We both knew, in that instant that our lives, would never be the same. We didn’t know then how enormously different the changes would be, that came in January 2001 when this skinny little first novel won a HUGE national award.
This knowledge of shock and uncertainty was similar in uniqueness to, but of course utterly different, from that day a year earlier when I’d had to tell her that her son was dead.
What are the odds that such exciting, great news would arrive at such an exactly, almost impossibly perfect time to help us offset the pain of the next day’s dawning and memories?
What are the odds that a day we’d spend drinking champagne and toasting Eric and ourselves, our tears of sadness and now joy, too, would be flowing together?
Patti claimed it was a miracle offered-up by saints and angels, which I don’t even believe in.
I called it a coincidence, which, to be honest, I don’t really believe explains it either.
There aren’t all that many things I’ve done that I wish I could take back. but one of them is pissing on the grave of a friend I’d once tried to love.
More to the point, a friend I’d tried to feel love from.
I didn’t set out to do it, piss on the grave that is, and coincidence, if you believe in such a thing played a big role in it.
The pissing happened, as I think of it, at night, although that doesn’t make much sense because I don’t recall going to the cemetery after dark and the gates would have been locked.
Still, it’s hard to imagine, standing there, whipping it out and urinating in broad daylight. Although I don’t remember NOT doing that either.
Alcohol was involved.
I was a bit drunk, At least “a bit,” probably more than that. Although this is not an excuse, just a fact offered up more for clarity than as justification.
I’d gone to visit my stepson’s grave and such visits were difficult and big reminders of losing him and of just how painful fucking life can be.
I was there specifically to share a beer with him and say a few words to my memories of him. We were alone, just me and him, cremated and under the ground, and all the other buried dead people. Mission accomplished, I’d begun to walk back to my car, parked nearby and as I walked looking down at the other nearby graves, suddenly I saw it, only a few spots away from my stepson’s grave.
A stone with the name of an old lady I’d once known and who had to my way of seeing it, betrayed me.
When she was dying, I learned only later, she’d told mutual friends, not to tell me she was sick.
Our personal history had been long and mercurial: I’d attended her husband’s funeral a few years earlier, and I had helped bail her shit-heel son out of trouble numerous times.
I’d put up with her bullying and disrespect for many years, both before and after my son was born with a ruined brain.
When that had happened, she’d wept and tried to comfort me, my own mother living far away and wrecked as I was by my son’s condition, I think my old lady pal wanted to be, and acted as if she was my surrogate Mother:
But her idea of mothering was mostly nasty, condemning, disapproval while providing just enough faux ‘caring’ to keep me confused and dependent.
The cemetery, was/is huge, acres and acres of graves but as coincidences go there was her grave within 10 or 15 feet from my stepson’s, despite them never having met and having no connection, whatsoever, not Familial, nor social, nor in any way.
Drunk, and shocked to stumble upon this final resting place of my former intimate/tormentor, her name, etched in granite staring up at me from the damp, green ground, her dead silence now in this world of deathly silence incapable of teasing, mockery, or any further cruelties.
Yep, I pulled it out, absent any hesitation, and peed on her grave.
I wish I hadn’t done that.
I wish coincidence had not placed her there, under my feet and given me this bad choice.
But hearing myself say ‘I wish I hadn’t done it,’ as I’m writing this, I realize that I don’t wish I hadn’t done it all that much.
Certainly not enough to say I’m sorry. because, thinking about it now, I’m not.
And this is probably why this story is about coincidences, and not about pissing on graves.
Random is Not What You Think it is
Especially if you like to use it constantly
The word random has a fairly specific meaning. And the antithesis of random would be its frequent use as a substitute for not having the correct language available to you to describe the myriad events, objects, occurrences, moments, and various other miscellany of “random” you apply inaccurately, predictably, and therefore – NOT random at all.
“I’m 'Just saying,'” which imparts more sarcasm than meaning, is another among many hackneyed useless phrases, as is describing something sad as, “Wow, that’s like really sad,” when in fact, the matter you are discussing is not a simile at all, not being “like” that thing, but IS precisely that thing. And by the way, this message is not “random,” and if tempted to describe it as such, you are my target audience.
The same people claiming randomness will also apply the superficial knowledge "everything happens for a reason," revealing this magical thinking as more than just irrational but a control crutch. Flimsy wisdom gives them a sense of control over the baffling and the uncontrolled circumstance by assigning a blanket cause.
Who would have thought overturning Roe v Wade would increase unwanted pregnancies? Wow! That's random.
Yet, it is like a real tragedy when that woman dies during childbirth since the denial of a life-saving abortion amounts to the tragedy of manslaughter.
Who would have thought beating children, as the Bible dictates, inflicts emotional damage? Wow! That's like really sad.
Yes, sad, like a natural disaster that could never be predicted by the fear in the child's eyes.
Wordplay provides a facade of control serving to absolve bad thinking and responsibility for actions. You can't really blame the person who follows the Bible because negative outcomes were all so random, and when they are positive, its because there are no coincidences for those who prayed the correct way or held nice, confident imaginings in their head long enough to make the universe or God answer them. We hear this wisdom jibber-jabbered all the time, without a hint of complexity, for wanting to keep it simple, stupid.
The Idiotic Wisdoms of Cliché
Inspired by a truly great movie line...
In the fabulous Indie movie I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore there are a lot of hilarious and precious moments, but a favorite of mine follows a secondary character spouting an innocuous and meaningless cliché, to which her friend Ruth, the film’s protagonist, gently objects and requests clarification. She’s told, “Oh, it’s just something people say.” How often do we hear bullshit and nonsense coming out of someone’s mouth that’s just something people say? And how often do we simply nod and mumble back something equally mundane and useless in response? Let’s stop it. At least here, in our writing. The next time someone says; “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” Let’s answer, “What the fuck are you talking about? Why have cake at all if I can’t eat it? And then ask, do you really wanna say, ‘You can’t eat your cake and have it too’ which is rather obvious isn’t it? And if I’ve already eaten it, why would I care about having it? And if you mean, ‘You can’t have it all, you know’ ask, why the fuck are you saying this to ME? Why don’t you look at yourself and mind your own desires and selfish cravings and STOP spouting the idiotic wisdoms of cliché and nonsense?” Or, just say as a rejoinder to anything, ever, “Oh, it’s just something people say.” And if that doesn’t work say, “What?” and when the person repeats the comment glance away and say, “I heard you the first time.” These are surefire methods for lowering postage budgets by thinning X-mas card lists. Yer welcome.
WISDOM & All The SHIT That Passes For It
Sometimes the thing to do is to react fast, like in that exact moment of NOW.
Other times the opposite is true: consider options before you make your move.
One of the blessings of experience is being clear about which approach is called for, when and which fits best.
It’s NOT random.
It’s sure as hell NOT positive and magical thinking.
There comes a time, a day, or week, or month, or hour or minute as you grow when you suddenly and surprisingly realize you simply KNOW, and trust me on this, that moment, whether in your face or sneaking-up behind you is real knowledge, not wishful thinking.
Start Accepting Today As New
Writing Hope Only Returns Excellence!
Some days I wake up too exhausted to write. All focus centers on the workday’s dread rather than promise. That is the moment I stop and take a minute before rising from the bed. A quick, quiet period awakens me from preconceived notions sure to impact my writing. Not one word written means I am the day’s author.
Life’s badness instills us with false assumptions, and like writing, patterns a way of living — not a good one. Often allowing the negative to creep into our story removes the inspiration. Vexation infects, becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy: a foolish way to start our day. Each day provides a blank page to write life better. Simply changing your view in the morning brings clarity, writing your life with new possibilities.
You can’t know fully what the day holds, but even knowing some hold a miserable plot, all the more reason to reframe thought. Often, just changing our waking perception is enough, but why limit yourself when the day holds many chances to change perspectives? Ultimately, you are the author of your life, penning how you feel and act.
In time, change becomes effortless and more natural. Don’t let your day master you. In all things, scribe the better life. Open yourself to those possibilities and be amazed by what happens. Think different; be different; write your life differently.
There is no God. He died long ago, that sod. Expressions of faith form idiom speakers. The wisdom pays out only to the seekers. Read to me the wisdom, teacher! Unobfuscate truth to save me from killjoy's preachers.The truth's essence shimmers far more brilliantly than the dishonest speakers. Hold that honesty to the letter. Work it, and all might just get better. I promise lies will only hinder! Love yourself enough to let truth's power render. Love yourself this much, and happiness you'll know so tender. Such freedom, you shall know. Expressions will not wilt the best life you wish to sow. Time escapes as life flows. You know this sure as the death wind blows. Over soon shall all things be. Undiscovered truth should not the grave it see. Fight it you must: the happiness fee. Run from the dead deceiver's words. Express the word unheard. Evil is deceit unpurged.
Wisdom Must be Defined
Can be defined as informed and detached concern for life in the face of death. This definition isn’t my invention, but it suits my purposes. I’m not sure at all that I’m ever very wise and I’m quite sure that if I am sometimes it’s only in small bursts and not a steady-state. Life has a beginning, a middle and an ending; this isn’t as big a wisdom nor as simple an insight as it might seem. For instance, how often do people’s choices seem to reflect any recognition of this truth… especially that “ending” part? See what I mean? Kinda wise, Huh?
Not random. Not simply positive thinking but a purpose driven. Drive straight Over a cliff. Putting you into Eternal oblivion.
Copyright Vincent Triola & Terry Trueman