First off, I’d like you to do one really, really good thing for yourself. Skip my yammering and go right to this short video interview with a nice young guy who got both legs blown off up at the Boston Marathon (it’s not what you think) …and then c’mon back and let’s talk. http://nyti.ms/17U0fmR
Even as a little kid, I noticed one dramatic thing about my family. The genetic pool had split right down the middle as to the “stoics” and the “complainers”. My mom was of German descent and honestly, I can’t remember her ever complaining about anything. She was a concert pianist and early on had the tip of her index finger chopped off in an accident. They stitched it up and she was back playing (in extreme pain) on the occasional bloody Steinway keyboard while she was healing, but she never made a peep…just pressed-on. I figured if my mom could “suck-it-up” I should be able to as well and she was my role model.
Not so hot… My father, who was a best-selling novelist, for all his apparent bravado, was her perfect opposite. Ask him how he was feeling and it was usually, “Not so hot…” in a sort of weak, sickly voice as if he were perpetually coming down with the flu. It never made sense… That gene pool stayed pretty pure among my siblings and by this time, I imagine everyone knows where they stand on this continuum.
Later on, I began to notice that friends and extended family tend to fall into one camp or another. Ask some people how they’re doing and you will never get a positive answer…it just isn’t gonna happen. Others, always have a smile, a joke, an anecdote, a twinkle despite what’s happening in their private lives.
In my thirties, I had a friend and senior mentor who came in to the studio often. He’d bum a glass of wine, eat a peanut and share some wisdom. One day, he confided in between brushing peanut shells from his shirt that, “People don’t really want to hear your problems. They just don’t. Oh, they may have enough empathy to say the right words but, keep it to a sentence or two…under a minute. Beyond that, and the eyes start to glaze-over.” The reason? We ALL have our own problems. Some of us just hide it better than others.
A few years ago, a good friend and director out in Hollywood flew here to discuss movie rights for one of my books. We took him out to dinner and he impressed the hell out of us with anecdotes about Harrison Ford, Susan Pleshette, etc. and at some point in the conversation, Pamela chimed in with, “I think, no matter who you are, we all have huge problems. The game is who can camouflage them the best.” Rick put his hand on Pamela’s and time froze in that moment. It was as if she’d shared the meaning of life. He said, “You have no idea how deeply true that is.”
I’m telling a little secret here. Pam and I, for the most part, are so against...sharing-the-shit, that most friends and relatives have no idea whatsoever, what kind of rocky seas we’re navigating. And we get kidded. “Man, you guys have it made-in-the-shade.” Pamela will grin, flash me a little micro-look and one of us will say, “…….yeah.” Right or wrong, I believe a lot of people fall into this category.
This week, month, year…not sure where to stop here, have been pretty rough for us. Yesterday, particularly so, though I am in no way complaining. I look around and think, “Man! Pat Benatar was right. Life is a Battlefield.” It really is and eventually, at least on this planet, we all lose. It’s that time in between wearing a Pampers at age two…and wearing one at age ninety-two that you have to make special. Every damned day.
String of Beads: I conjured-up my own little metaphor a whole bunch of years ago, for a character in one of my novels, through the lips of Sam Harper, sitting in a tavern, I said…(he said), “Life is making your own string of beads. Every day you create a bead and string it on. If you keep stringing on ugly, crappy beads…you’re gonna have an ugly, crappy, string of beads.” The corollary is equally true. String enough beautiful beads and…
When we woke up this morning, we were both pretty much in a dark place…feeling sorry for ourselves which is a profound rarity. I hate that feeling. And then, I flipped to that short little video above…gonna re-link it because it’s so good. http://nyti.ms/17U0fmR Feelin’ sorry for yourself? Think you got it bad? Suck it up and try to string a good pearl on your life-necklace today.
I enjoy communicating with you,