Thursday, January 8

The Saddest Picture Ever

Don't you sometimes want to just grab life by its cute little cheeks and gobble it up? Do 500 things at once?

There's just so much to DO! No, it's not just because I happen to live near Seattle (where we're surrounded by rain forest and desert, mountains and ocean, cities and woods, lakes and rivers and ponds). There is that, of course.

But this world is filled with libraries of books to read, and universities of classes to take, and continents of countries to visit, and billions of people to meet, and...Just...So...Much...Life! The music! The languages! The art! The poetry! The dancing! The stars! The flora! The fauna!
Who has time for sleep?

Such a short time on this earth. A hundred years. Hundred and twenty at the outside. So little time for lying on hot sand, making snow angels, taking a stroll through woody trails, floating on a summer lake, staying up late talking to a friend, tasting chocolate, smelling gardenias, snuggling with a baby, playing laser tag with a cat, or feeding a pack of teenagers.

Oh, what I could do with another hundred years! See more streets, more trails, more stars, more children, more friends, more books, more films, more oceans. Hear more music, more French, more laughter, more stories! Work more, love more, play more...

Isn't it exciting to think about all the food you've yet to eat, the beaches you'll still visit, the conversations you'll have, the friends you'll find? Today I rode four buses and a train, chatted with six strangers, and ate a weird sandwich. And I'm fairly sure I'll wake up tomorrow and have another adventure.

Or, I could toss it all and become this guy:

The least interesting man in the world.

Yikes. Is that an aluminum lawn chair?

This guy just dropped from boring to tragic.

* * *

Last night, my hubby showed me this hysterical video of Jimmy Fallon blowing his chance to date Nicole Kidman. It features sweatpants and backwards baseball cap and other pathetic signs of a failure to launch:


So, yeah. Baseball cap. Sweatpants. Moldy Chinese food. And the pièce de résistance: Adult man playing video games. He was one aluminum chair from permanent bachelorhood. (Incidentally, this is funnier the second viewing.)

* * *

When I hit the midpoint of my life, I came to a painful realization: I can't read all the books. There's not time. I'm halfway to dead, and I haven't yet read half the books. Not even half the English books. Not even half the English books, in genres I like, that were published in the second half of the 20th century. I've fallen so far behind!

So I had to make an executive decision. And I'm finding I can live with it. These days, books have three pages to keep my interest. If I lose interest, I quit. What a relief. I'm on to the next book. I've started applying the same rule to movies and music and lectures. When I stop caring about the main character, bam. When the song lyrics get too ugly, bam. When the lecture rambles, bam. Life's too short. There are compelling characters, beautiful songs, fascinating talks that I'll never get to. Can't waste a moment on "good enough." And can't watch television at all. Just can't fit it in.

* * *

People? People get a pass from me. People are never boring. They're all sorts of different things (even terrible things, at times), but never boring. When someone drones, I wonder why subjects that stupify me interest them. Maybe I'll redirect the conversation, interrupt to ask questions, or circle back to get clarity, but people are just endlessly fascinating.

Perhaps that's why this counseling thing is so compelling.

Today a caller to the Crisis Clinic needed help for her son's drug problem. I got all the standard information, found her some resources, and invited her to call back if she needed more help. We get these calls all the time.

Fifteen minutes later she did call back, and by coincidence, her call happened to route back to my phone.

I recognized her voice, and asked what had changed since our previous conversation. "Um, I should have told you this, but actually, he's suicidal," she said. "He needs help right away or I'm afraid he'll kill himself."

OK, then. The all-too-common drug problem dropped WAY down the priority list, and now we had to work out a plan to keep the son safe. See? People are never boring.

* * *

More importantly, people are also really good. For the most part. We all know a few people who are truly terrible. But most people are deeply, truly good.

Evidence: Wikipedia. Wikipedia is proof that the human race is generous, kind, helpful, intelligent, and...did I say generous? Tens of thousands of people coming together -- with strangers, with no possibility of reward -- to offer up the sum of their wisdom. For free. That's deeply good.

Exhibit B: MOOCs. Massive Open Online Courses. Major money-grubbing universities offering college- and high-school-level classes, online, free, to anyone who wants to learn. Deeply good.

Exhibit C: Mentors. Throughout my life, several good people have stepped up to mentor me, both in my education and in my work (Linda Hanby, I'm talking to you). And I'm endlessly grateful for their kindness and generosity. I pay it forward by mentoring teenagers. It's my happy place. I volunteer with youth programs, and when I run across a kid with talent and brains, I do everything I can to get that teenager into a good college, into programs that will broaden their lives, and on the right path to a happy adulthood. It's the most fun a grownup can have, mentoring other people. Gets you out of your own problems and turns the focus to others. Highly recommended. Share wisdom, find joy. Happiness may be just that easy!

Ah, what an exciting life this is!

* * *

Is life feeling less than joyful for you or a family member? Counseling may be the solution. Allied Family Therapy works with couples, teens, and individuals to find resources, new approaches, different options to make troubled lives happy. Call us at (425) 429-2230 for a free consultation.