I was 600 words into a new essay last night when the little muse-like voice inside my head began clearing her throat…not a good sign. I continued typing, but then her message quickly came through loud and clear. “Henry: your readership already knows when to say literally vs. figuratively, reticent vs. reluctant, when you can use simulacrum. Or, if they don’t, they couldn’t care less. Your readership isn’t 15 yrs. old and pimply-faced and…you’re sounding a bit pedantic. Why don’t you talk about that other topic…the one you actually want to talk about?” Okay, let’s start with new sheet of virtual paper.
The truth is, something interesting got triggered by last week’s blog. It hit a nerve, and I received a lot of responses from vous. On one level, the essay pitched the ultimate retirement home for Boomers in a tongue-in-cheek way. But scratch a bit deeper and it also asked, What the hell lies ahead? What are we going to do with the extremely finite years to come? Lastly, and most tricky: How can I be happier?
How Old are we Really? I’m actually going to give you some solid, specific alternatives/suggestions in a couple of paragraphs, but first we have to assess what might be causing the diminution of our happiness. First off, the obvious: Though we are aging, in our minds we’re still 18 or 22, slender, fit, filled with energy, and have an infinity of time ahead of us.
And yet when we wake up in the morning, go into the bathroom, stare in the mirror, we might think What the hell? What happened? Worse than that, there are aches, pains and like automobiles that once were perfect and had that new car smell, we now have more in common with some of the junkers on the used car lot. If you’ve been on the planet a while there aren’t a lot of exceptions to this.
Big things, life-changing and sometimes life-threatening things happen to us…every one of us. A while back it was my Annus Horribilis, my horrible year when I was sent home after a month at the Hahnemann Hospital…essentially to die. I didn’t cooperate and so, here I am. But one thing that did happen was my priorities switched that year.
This year is Pamela’s Annus Horribilis, her scary horrible year. Cancer was and continues to be the most frightening word in the English language and…priorities once more become extremely clear. In the course of an hour at the doctor’s office, all artifice was stripped away. What was left? The most basic battle for life…love…survival. Like the play, Ten Little Indians, one-by-one each of our artifices are eventually stripped away. Objects like cars, houses, jewelry, large stock portfolios are suddenly viewed from the other end of the telescope and discussions with friends and relatives, who are there as well, take on a new dimension.
Looks like, with a little luck, Pamela and I will survive together a bit longer now, though I’ll share a little secret. Once the C-word has been whispered, it never really leaves the stage. It will always and forever be lurking there, just behind the curtains. Here’s the fork in the road. You can crash, or you can go the other route: choose to make life sweeter and put your boxing gloves on. It’s time to fight back.
HAPPY: It’s a documentary on Netflix: First thing you can do if you feel stale, wilted, old, or just feeling sorry for yourself: This is easy, fun, and doesn’t cost you a cent. Go on this terrific blogsite (I forget the writer’s name though he’s brilliant and handsome) and read the short article. Way more importantly, however, boot-up the documentary on the site, simply titled, HAPPY. It could be the most important documentary you’ll ever watch. Here’s the link and it’s also on Netflix: http://www.netflix.com/WiPlayer?movieid=70243161&trkid=7852267 If it isn’t easy for you to find, don’t give up. Go for it. Get it. You’ll be glad you did. The keen essay is actually on this website. Go to May 2013 on the home page and you’ll find it.
What is the documentary, Happy gonna do for you? First thing is, it will make you smile. It really will. Next thing, it’ll draw you in. And, it will occasionally bite you on the ass, and that’s a good thing, too. You will meet a beautiful gal named Melissa Moody about ten minutes in and…well, you’ll see. It’s ass-biting in the nicest possible way. You will see yourself somewhere in this movie…guaranteed. Learn accordingly. We can all use a tune-up.
Oh, by the way and this is an absolute must: Watch it with your mate. This is not a solo kind of movie. When it’s over, consider it a good and free trip to your psychic realignment shop. Put on the coffee and figure out how you want to make the rest of your life STELLAR.
Eric Burdon and The Animals: The scene: 1966. Freshman year at F&M. The place had essentially closed down to study for finals. Two songs got blasted hourly through powerful speakers turned to point out windows. Both were written by the same group. The first was: We Gotta Get Out of This Place, an F&M anthem at the time, and the one thing all F&Mers could agree on during exams. The second was: It’s My Life…and I Can Do What I Want. That was a first runner-up. Over time, the ultra-simplicity of the title takes on new meaning. For some, the reality doesn’t hit until it’s possibly too late. It’s YOUR LIFE, my friend. You have one shot. Make it count. If you’re living to please your neighbors, your ritzier friends, your in-laws, your out-laws, it’s time to grab that rudder and slam it in the direction you really want to go. This is not a dress rehearsal.
For those who know us well, you know that Pamela and I have an exciting and detailed odyssey in our sights. We’re planning on going to where we belong: Black Mountain, NC. It’s where we feel we can be us…and no one will really give a flying foo foo who we are or what we’re up to. As recently as yesterday, Pamela was on the iPad…giggling over an article. I came over to see what was up and she showed me a website. It was instant VOILA…for us. Take your dog with you on the motorcycle…with Doggles and a sidecar. Watch the trailer and see for yourself. I’m already imagining Pam in the sidecar with one of our comical Boston terriers, toodling, trundling in slow-mo around the back-roads of Black Mountain and Asheville. I’m in. Pam’s in. But that’s us. No Harley necessary, just something with a motor. Here’s a link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
Connecting the Dots: There’s a rumor that is perpetuated when you go to the Asheville area. The friendliness of the people there is so palpable, so ubiquitous that visitors ask, “Is there something in the water? Are there huge magic crystals buried beneath Asheville that make everyone friendly?” About the magic crystals…probably not. About the water…… I’m not making this up. Search for yourself: One of the oldest minerals used to fight depression is Lithium. Really. It’s a salt. It’s cheap. It works and there are no side effects. A study was done, analyzing the water (for Lithium) in various cities and, sonofagun, there’s a connection. No pharmaceutical company will bother pursuing it because…it’s cheap and not patentable. But you can buy it. Do your research. Do your research. Pam and I have been on it for a couple of months now. For us…it’s not bad at all, though it’s not my place to be recommending minerals. Again, check it out for yourself. Does Asheville have lithium in its water supply? Why, yes it does! Lithium is over-the-counter and costs about as much as a jar of peanuts.
Another thing that works: This is a bit weird but take the gamble: Go on Amazon or Google and type in: Philips goLITE. Here’s a link: http://www.amazon.com/Philips-goLITE-BLU-Therapy-Device/dp/B001I45XL8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1418557183&sr=8-1&keywords=philips+go+lite. What is it? It’s a slim, trim, Apple-esque light that’s sitting in front of me this very minute. It counters the SAD Syndrome (seasonal affective disorder). In short, if you tend to get gloomy as the days get shorter, the sunlight gets dimmer, this little box effectively counters that. Depending on where you research, it consistently gets between four and five stars from the people reviewing it. Give it a shot…and if you hate it, return it.
In closing, everyone who resides on this planet ultimately comes to the realization that time is the most precious commodity, not money. As it becomes increasingly finite, its value goes up…way up. If you’re living your life by someone else’s rules…knock it off. It’s your life and you can do what you want.
For those of you who did gamble on watching Happy… You’re welcome. Buy me a drink when you see me next.
P.S. If you have secret you’ve learned that makes you happy, (excluding $$$, religion, and politics), now’s the time to share the wealth. Write in on the link below or just e-mail me directly. It will be posted
I have also discovered the Disney-esque qualities of lithium. Sherrel and I were visiting my daughter in Steamboat Springs, Colorado recently. They both are very good at keeping me active bouncing from one event, museum or natural wonder, to another. My multiple sclerosis has slowed me down a bit.After running several marathons with it the “juice” has run low. They found “the” Spring! It has 5 pools of descending temps from 105f to 95f. I soaked for two hours. When getting out of #5 I noticed a jumping sensation. I have not had that feeling since my last road race. As we were reading the touristy info on this nirvana, a collective ah ha moment hit us. Lithium. Lithium is in the natural spring. So my observation is this: whenever I get cranky and noticeably out of balance, send me to Steamboat Springs.
All the best with the “c”.
I always reserve a big dose of skepticism when dealing with “miracle” cures. But if I told you there’s a really effective pain reliever that they’re getting from willow bark, you might be skeptical, unless you knew that I was talking about aspirin.
That lithium works is not the issue. It’s been used for many decades…by doctors. That low doses in one’s water might help…a lot, seems a no-brainer. Thanks for your response.
Your wisdom and sense of humor never cease to amaze me.
Thank you, Chris. More importantly, do you have any secrets to share regarding how you cope with the bumps and bruises of every day life?
First, as soon as I saw the word, sidecar, I immediately thought PAM, before I even saw her name, a picture formed in my mind of you and Pam tooling around the mountains with her in a sidecar, dogs waddling along beside. Next, happiness. I believe happiness to be a choice, a state of mind if you will. Most days I choose to be happy. Are there external reasons that enable happiness? Absolutely. For me, a sibling recently rediscovered, watching a child reach a goal that he/she struggled to attain, a dog waiting to welcome you home, these types of things will enhance my happiness. As to what is next? Not a clue but I am sure I will figure it out as I go. My next goal in my journey is to try to be more present in the moment. Easy you say? Not necessarily. Life comes at you fast, it’s tough to keep up sometimes. Also, I want to be fearless, I want to take the next step, whatever it may be with gusto and not let fear hold me back. So yes, happiness is never really that far away, you just have to let it in.
The Declaration of Independence promised us Life, Liberty and the Pursuit…of Happiness. But Ben Franklin added in a private letter that you have to catch it yourself.
I’m not sure you can just decide to be happy. But I think you can up your chances of being happy by doing things that help you grow, helping people, accepting who you are and what you are. I think it’s more peripheral than something you can capture in a paper bag.
Re lithium, I recently started a blog called AgeTreatmentNews on biomedical research to slow aging or reverse its damages. Two days after your post, I noted a research report that lithium helped prevent Parkinson’s symptoms — in mice. That’s one of two lithium news reports on my blog — you can use your browser’s search to find them. I haven’t tried lithium myself yet, but will.