It’s a very bright and sunny day here in Panama City, Florida.
OK, so sunny and bright kinda go together…I knew that!
It’s only expected to get into the mid 60’s today, but with the frigid weather giving most of the U.S. fits, less said about that, the better…
On the meantime, wherever you are, and no matter the weather, I hope you’re taking care of yourself, feeling good, and having a helping or two, of some sorta fun!
Today, let’s do a little lightweight shadow boxing with how perceptions, thoughts and emotions effect our lives.
I’m not overly smart to begin with.
And, because I’m a long ways from having any formal training in these areas, I promise briefness and shallowness will relieve any attempts at ‘deep thoughts’.
Figure the both of us can handle whatever I come up with.
I grew up on a fairly isolated, small farm in southeastern Kentucky. Our place was practically smack dab between the coal country and the Daniel Boone National Forest.
I was 13 when we got a TV on which we could sometimes get two channels. My 16th summer we got a phone. It was a ‘party’ line shared with, I think, 6 other families. Might have been 8 others on it.
The road in front of our house was dirt.
It was near impassable after a rainstorm. Because my Dad drove our only car in his weekly out-of-town job commutes, crummy roads didn’t bother us pedestrians.
We had a few neighbors, many of whom were supportive and had the decency to pretend they minded their own business.
Other than the occasional visits from our ‘big-city’ cousins from Ohio, our social life happened at church, or at that church’s school.
BTW, the church and school were run by honest-to-God missionaries outta Pennsylvania.
Yup, we be backwards heathens, baby!
Anyway, and I’m not sure why, I always had a tendency towards ‘feeling’ happy.
I was also easily excitable about, well… Everything!
I suspect part of it had something to do with my utter, and complete lack of sophistication. As in, I just didn’t know any better?
By high school, I’d only been out of Lee County once.
And that was a quick day trip up to Dayton, Ohio with my Uncle Earl, so he could sign up for unemployment benefits, or something of that nature. (My Dad didn’t approve of healthy men ‘drawing’ on the government)
As a shy high school freshman, I remember realizing that the cooler kids (everyone who wasn’t me) didn’t walk the halls with a big fat smile plastered all over their faces.
And, why not? Right off the bat, I was happy being in a class with more than seven people.
And, I was delighted to be matriculating in a school building with indoor plumbing. (something my church school couldn’t afford and didn’t have)
I also thought things, which were ordinary events to more experienced classmates, like hot cafeteria lunches, were, well, pretty special.
I was also a guy who could be counted on to support any kinda scheme someone came up with… the dumber, the better.
And, the stupid grin on my face made my feelings quite obvious.
Even in those ancient ‘days of old’, wearing your heart on your sleeve, wasn’t considered sophisticated, or at all cool. All insights that dawned on me as I earned a few blisters on my psyche.
Despite my slow descent towards cynicism, during high school and college, I mostly remained the open, trusting country boy I blew into town as.
Even while I was serving in ‘my war’, Vietnam, I was still, more or less, a happy guy, and still smiling like a deranged 2nd grader…
Much of the next 20 years was survival mode for me.
Don’t wanna count them because I was often pretty much outta it, from ‘self-doctoring’, as I fought symptoms of my not yet diagnosed PTSD.
Can’t really blame outside events, but my 40’s saw me slipping ever closer towards becoming a guy you could count on as a ‘devil’s advocate’ in most situations.
I was even guilty of pointing out the obvious, if you catch my drift…
A long story short:
By my 50’s, I’d become real good at seeing the downside of most things.
Truth is, I’d evolved into a grumpy old
bastard malcontent – who had forgotten where he came from.
And, not many people like being around a practicing pain-in-the-a*s cynic!
Oh, short doses around an eccentric like I was, can be entertaining.
But, a steady diet of complaints, and sarcastic zingers , topped off with random nit-pickings, is a recipe for social indigestion.
I’m not so dense that I wasn’t aware of this.
I realized it and actually enjoyed being someone to avoid. Reveled, in it, even.
Yet one day, as they always do, the chickens finally came home to roost.
Which is my colloquial way of saying that I began to bring my public persona home.
It was inevitable, wasn’t it?
Play a part long enough and you become the part. Sorta like my version of the ‘Stockholm syndrome’.
Fortunately, my Wife Treasa, being the shy, retiring wall flower she is, soon enough pointed out the errors of my ways.
Uh, strongly pointed out!
Which led me to do a couple things I like to avoid: think and soul-search.
Without question, I was no longer that enthusiastic, and naturally happy boy I once was.
And, what we’ve talked about thus far, is the condensed version of insights my thinking and soul-searching led to.
All this has taken place within the last 6 or 7 years. So, in terms of my life span, this is fairly recent.
But, you do see the connection between the way we act and the way we feel?
In my mind, there’s no doubt that my feelings, about life, had changed because of how I decided to behave in public.
Realizing this, it’s a pity I didn’t stop acting like a bozo, isn’t it?
Now, honestly, you don’t really think I’m that dumb, do you?
Now blessed with decades (many, many decades) of experience, the code I now attempt to live by, is kinda summed up in my recent post 10 New Years Resolutions For Senior Citizen
I’m far cry from being an ideal social animal.
But, happily, I’m working my way back toward being that unpretentious country boy once was.
Yup, I’m guilty of waddling about with a goofy smile spread over my face.
And, it’s amazing what a smile can do for your emotions.
For example, it’s near impossible to smile and not feel better…no matter how bad you were feeling before forcing that smile.
It’s simplistic, but if I could suggest one thing that would immediately make your life better, it would be…
Keep On Smilin’
You know what? I kinda liked that smiling, happy kid I grew up with.
Ideas for me, your aging related story, or comments are always welcome…