March 27, 2008
This morning I received the sweetest, most ego inflating email from a reader named Julia B. I usually don't share these emails or reply to them in a public forum, but this letter was so uplifting and so complimentary that I really couldn't help it. Here's a snippet for your reading pleasure:
...I love the way you look at life. Nothing seems stressful to you and you manage to make life's little annoyances seem kind of fun. I think I'd be better off if I could be that like. How do you do it?..
Well Julia, your email leads me to believe that I don't spend enough time writing about the regular dose of crrrAZY I dole out to my husband--because honey, he thoroughly disagrees with your sentiments. In all actuality, life's little stressors make me want to pack up the Blazer, drive to Belize, and take up with the orangutans. Trust me when I tell you: It's a rare moment when I kick up my feet and have a genuine har-dee-har-har at my past due electric bill.
That said, I will readily admit that I am the self proclaimed queen of journalistic spin. In other words, I use this blog to transform my day-to-day humiliation into lighthearted humor. And usually, by the time I press the PUBLISH button, I've actually convinced myself that farting or falling (or whatever else happened that day) actually was a bit funny. How simple minded is that?
Emily Sailers, my all time favorite singer/songwriter, says, "You have to laugh at yourself, because you'd cry your eyes out if you didn't." Let me tell you, I'd give Emily a good old fashioned belly bop if I could, because she's hit the nail right on the head. I don't count my blessings and I don't look on the bright side to cope with the vicissitudes of life--instead, I laugh.
Yesterday for example, an extraordinarily enflamed townsperson walked into my office. Before I even had a chance to shake his hand, he approached my desk and started screaming like some sort of an ape on steroids. I work in the highly controversial field of affordable housing, so outraged citizens are not a rarity, but this gentleman--to put it lightly--was in a league of his own.
I understand people's frustrations with affordable housing, and usually I process the criticism well, but when this man strategically backed me into a corner and topped it off by calling "stupid," I was almost reduced to tears. I'm embarrassed to admit, that for a moment or two, he reigned me in with his slick words and I actually believed him. I believed that I was stupid.
When I felt the tears begin to swell in the back of my eyes, I knew the situation had gone too far. I couldn't allow a disrespectful schmuck to capture my control, I wouldn't let him steal my peace. And that's when I realized that I was certainly not the stupid person in the room.
In order to keep myself from crying, I immediately began to look for a touch of humor in a nasty situation, and thanks be to heaven, it wasn't very hard to find. This jack hole's fly was half way unzipped, and with every wave of his arm and pound of his fist, it opened up a teensy bit more. Tooth by tooth, his zipper was letting go, and if he screamed for long enough his wenis would be waggling around for the whole damn office to see.
He'd say, "STUPID!" And I'd think "What's up wenis waggler?"
He'd yell, "IDIOTS!" And I'd think "Waggle away Mr. Wenis!"
Him: WASTE. OF. MONEY!
Me: Wenis. Waggler.
I will admit, when I got into my car yesterday afternoon, I put my head on the steering wheel and cried--I am human after all. But before I knew it, my tears had morphed into a snorty sort of laughter, and I was feeling pretty normal. And today, when I look at the situation--thanks to some very intentional spin--I think it's pretty funny.
Typically, the way you react to uncontrollable situations is nobody's choice by your own, so you may as well spin it into whatever you'd like it to be. And that my friends, is my very own, creative definition of freedom.