Bird Droppings July 21, 2022
Is there a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?
Over the past few days, several storms passed through quickly, each a definitive front literally flying by and ending with rainbows, or so I have been told. On one occasion, a twin rainbow. On the other hand, my sunrises have been off this summer, partly due to clouds and an inability to scramble out and get photos. Sunrises and sunsets are simple things, just numerous clouds blocking the sun and offering just an orange or pink band briefly as the sun enters our reality. So, a few brief moments and just enough to elicit a smile. After a brief few moments and double-checking the rainbow end for that pot of gold, it doesn’t hurt to hope.
This has been a different sort of summer for me. Pat and I try to get to the South Carolina Coast several times a year. Three years back, I returned and ruptured my Achilles tendon while doing yard work. So, I am still recovering and getting my strength back, but every day is better. I live in the water in warm weather, and the pool has been a great help just doing lap after lap walking in circles. I do not recommend damaging Achilles’ tendons as fun, especially as you get older. But still, all in all, it has been a good summer. Yesterday my wife reminded me about a spur-of-the-moment road trip where we ended up in the Nantahochee-Rabun gap. We stopped at Billingsly’s nursery, which is a favorite stop. Sitting in the valley or gap, the mountains are on both sides. We ventured up Black Rock Mountain to the Foxfire Museum and enjoyed visiting with some of my friends. It was a beautiful day and a great time. We had lunch at a favorite stop, Cupboard Café, and brought home a slice of chocolate cake that was insane.
“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Abraham Lincoln
Perhaps in the scheme of things, some people are inherently grouchy; in Lincoln’s view, they want to be grouchy. Sitting here pondering this morning, I recall bumping into many people like this. They are inherently grouchy. Perhaps we should label these folks and walk away. As I look deeper into the simple words above, we all can be happier as I think about Lincoln’s thoughts. It is just wanting to be that way.
“Whatever happiness is in the world has arisen from a wish for the welfare of others; whatever misery there is has arisen from indulging selfishness.” Buddhist Proverb
I had not thought of happiness previously as simply as this idea. Happiness is oriented around others, and therefore unhappiness is more self-oriented. Lately, in a series of commercials, the ad focuses on cows in various situations of being happy, as the ads portray; happy cows make California cheese or some such thing. In one commercial, a cow escapes from Wisconsin, the other cows are watching, and one asks the other how long she has been gone; it has been several days, and the cow is only a few feet past the fence. Maybe happy cows cannot make Limburger cheese?
“True happiness arises, in the first place, from the enjoyment of oneself, and in the next, from the friendship and conversation of a few select companions.” Joseph Addison
“Happiness is a sort of action.” Aristotle
Happiness seems different for different people; for some, it is in doing for others; for others, it is friendship. As I read this morning, I agree with Aristotle it is a word of action.
“The really happy man never laughs — seldom — though he may smile. He does not need to laugh, for laughter, like weeping is a relief of mental tension — and the happy are not overstrung.” Prof. F. A. P. Aveling
“Happiness is a conscious choice, not an automatic response.” Mildred Barthel
As I think of students, and occasionally some shift from happy to sad, I try to ask them if everything is ok. I can think of one student I do not even know her name who always looks unhappy, never smile, and is often alone, and perhaps it is in the aloneness is the unhappiness. When I am out in large shopping venues, which I try to avoid, a mall or such many times, I observe people while my wife does whatever women do at malls. That isn’t a sexist statement, but I still am trying to figure out what malls are for other than observation projects for doctoral dissertations. I know various stores with goods run the gambit of humankind; perhaps it is a social gathering place to meet other people.
“When one is happy, there is no time to be fatigued; being happy engrosses the whole attention.” Edward Frederic Benson
“The world’s literature and folklore are full of stories that point out how futile it can be to seek happiness. Rather, happiness is a blessing that comes to you as you go along, a treasure that you incidentally find.” Louis Binstock
It is difficult to explain a way of seeking happiness. Perhaps we cannot indeed seek happiness. Several months back, even in today’s modern age, a rainbow was blazing in the sky, and people were parked as close to the end as possible, looking for the end and who knows a pot of gold. Thinking about happiness, I ponder what makes me happy. It could be as simple as laughing in the hallway with students and fellow teachers. Back in the day, my Para pro and I would stand at my door deliberately talking to students. We would try and single out students who are quiet and often alone. One day we might ask if they were lost or looking for a room. We are not good ones at directions. We have been known to give wrong directions around school, but we try and laugh with students. We would try and make the passing by our door more than just like everyone else’s. We ask about their weekend or who won last night’s softball or basketball game. We are actively involved, and you know what, unintentionally, we come back after the bell, and we are happy, usually laughing pretty good, at least smiling ourselves.
“It is the paradox of life that the way to miss pleasure is to seek it first. The very first condition of lasting happiness is that a life should be full of purpose, aiming at something outside self.” Hugo Black
“The truth is that all of us attain the greatest success and happiness possible in this life whenever we use our native capacities to their greatest extent.” Smiley Blanton
“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world. It is having; someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.” Allan K. Chalmers
If only all were so simple, and yet maybe life is this simple as we move through what we do and what we hope for and seem to grow proportionately. Our needs and wants tend to fluctuate around being wanted and understanding of that. What it would take to be happy and content today may be different than forty years ago, and forty years from now, more different if I am still around?
“Happiness comes more from loving than being loved, and often when our affection seems wounded, it is only our vanity bleeding. To love, and to be hurt often, and to love again — this is the brave and happy life.” J. E. Buckrose
“When you have once seen the glow of happiness on the face of a beloved person, you know that a man can have no vocation but to awaken that light on the faces surrounding him; and you are torn by the thought of the unhappiness and night you cast, by the mere fact of living, in the hearts you encounter.” Albert Camus
I remember watching the infectious smiles and happiness in a small church in Macon Georgia, The Church of The exceptional, years ago. The church was founded in 1971. The idea was a place where mentally and physically impaired children and adults could worship together. Parents often leave children at home and or do not go to church. I recall one fellow, Mike Porch, who would greet everyone as they entered the door. He had a smile ear to ear and would shake your hand like there was no tomorrow and welcome you to his church. Mike had never been to public school; he had Downs Syndrome, which in 1971 meant you would never do well in school. He was at that time a student and employee of The Macon Association for Retarded Citizens workshop.
Mike has passed away since that day, but that smile and joy were infectious, and many people were cheered up by Mike as he greeted people joining him for church services.
“Did you ever see an unhappy horse? Did you ever see a bird that had the blues? One reason why birds and horses are not unhappy is that they are not trying to impress other birds and horses.” Dale Carnegie
“A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.” Hugh Downs
I thought I was a creature of routine; after a long weekend, it is hard to get sorted out and back on track. I am still getting sorted out from being home from a few days of vacation. Mine, however, is not as routine as missing contact with students and people. Interacting is where ideas and thinking permeate. When someone thinks differently, pulling away is not the answer. It is immersing in and offering the differences. Who knows what doors may open or windows close?
“There are two ways of being happy: We must either diminish our wants or augment our means — either may do — the result is the same, and it is for each man to decide for himself and to do that which happens to be easier.” Benjamin Franklin
As I close for the day, leave it to Ben Franklin to have the solution for today, and please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your heart namaste.
My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)