“Everything that was good for you is bad for you and everything that was bad for you is good for you.” That was told to Woody Allen in the movie “Sleeper” when he woke up 200 years in the future. I used to quote Woody Allen all the time when he was dating adults. He taught me to separate greatness of achievement from greatness of character. Now we have a “yes, but” culture. Everything has a “yes, but’ attached to it. “George Washington was great, but he owned slaves. Thomas Jefferson was brilliant but his life belied the lofty ideals of the Declaration of Independence.
We must learn to be happy, while we're having problems. I'd like to make you think, bring you laughter, restore your perspective and renew your hope.
I grew up with “June is busting out all over” and now I live with “June gloom.” It used to be said that East Coast life was interesting and in California we made life comfortable. We passed comfortable a long time ago so we’re all struggling with “interesting”. I’ve always felt that I had the best of both worlds an East Coast upbringing and a West Coast appreciation of life. My father was a beer truck driver, work was something you had to do but didn't like. Until the day he died, he never understood my work; he would ask, "You mean people pay you just for listening to them?" He thought it was astonishing that I didn't have to "work" for a living. I still hear his voice in my head, the voice of common sense, the voice of “street” with a quip, a put down, a joke. I remember feeling guilty the first time a client gave me a check after a therapy session.
It’s been three years since I’ve been a daughter. As we age we lose more and more of our roles. But the relationship with my mother continues in my head. It remains one of the most profound influences on my life. By the way, I’ve always wondered when parent became a verb instead of a noun. Whenever I want a good laugh I try to imagine my parents, may they rest in peace, exchanging ideas in a parenting class. With fewer choices they were more certain of what they knew. Now there are so many theories that like the man with one clock knows what time it is - but the man with two is never sure.
Growing up in New Jersey the first warm breeze of April lifted my spirits; now it’s hearing Vin Scully’s voice that triggers memories of brighter days coming. The message of spring is often bittersweet as age strips away much we thought we couldn’t live without. April showers can feel like torrents by the time we get to May flowers. As a counselor sometimes the only thing I can do is hold the umbrella. My life’s work has been to discover ways to go through storms like Gene Kelly, singing and dancing in the rain. Carl Jung said only paradox can explain life; only paradox can do justice to the injustice of life. That’s why I talk about how a sane response to an insane situation is insane - and that is a wisdom that only comes with age. I have a needlepoint that says “why didn’t all of life’s problems hit me while I was a teenager and I still knew everything.” As we age we start looking for the right questions.
I was thinking about St. Patrict's Day and the "luck of the Irish" We associate it with shamrocks, 4 leak clovers, pots of gold and, yet, the Irish have suffered famines, war, starvation and prejudice, Pat Moynihan once said "if your Irish you learn at an early age that the world will break your heart." Their humor and story telling gifts are testaments to their ability to "suffer in style." They personify the advice of mythologist, Joseph Campbell to "participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world." Seeing the bright side of bad luck is one of the basic psychological traits lucky people possess according to Dr. Richard Wiseman, psychology chair at the University of Herfordshire in England. He wrote a book called “The Luck Factor” and believes that luck can be learned. He claims lucky people think and behave differently and have: the ability to maximize chance opportunities, to listen to "gut feelings," and to expect good fortune.