Stories of personal transformation and awakenings are my absolute favorites. When people recommend books or movies, the first thing that I ask is “Does it have a happy or good ending?” If not, then it is not for me. I have, in my life read plenty of so-called “important” pieces of literature. Not that important, brilliant work cannot be uplifting but a lot of it wasn’t. I was left feeling depressed, angry, or sad. I also found that I could not get rid of the images that I had so deeply taken into myself.
When something is emotionally power-packed it affects even our cells. I didn’t know this years ago when I was trying to read important work (hoping that this would make me important myself). I heard someone say once that they were going to see a movie that had been highly acclaimed as a “dark, psychotic masterpiece” as if they were almost proud to be doing it! The images that we hold in our minds begin to outplay in our experience. If I don’t want to be eventually living it, I don’t watch or read it.
Growing up in the 60’s, to be cool, you had to have a “dark side”; be mysterious and intellectual and disgusted with the state of the world. There is a great scene in the movie, “When Harry Met Sally”, that speaks to this mind-set perfectly. They had just met and were driving to NY together and he is trying to impress her with how educated he is, and how light-weight she is. She has just told him that she heard he had a dark side, and he is responding;
Harry: Why don’t you have a dark side? No you’re probably one of those cheerful people who dots their eyes with little hearts.
Sally: I have just as much of a dark side as the next person.
Harry: Oh really. When I buy a new book I always read the last page first that way in case I die before I finish I know how it ends. That my friend is a dark side.
Sally: That doesn’t mean you’re deep or anything I mean… yes, basically I’m a happy person….and I don’t see that there’s anything wrong with that.
Harry: Of course not you’re too busy being happy. Do you ever think about death?
Harry: Sure you do, a fleeting thought that jumps in and out of your mind. I spend hours, I spend days…
Sally: And you think that makes you a better person.
Harry: Look, when the shit comes down I’m gonna be prepared and you’re not that’s all I’m saying.
Sally: And in the mean time you’re gonna ruin your whole life waiting for it.
I used to have checks that had happy faces on them (I change check designs a lot because it’s always fun for me to pick new themes) and I was paying for something once at a local store, run by a religious community. The man behind the counter looked at my check, in almost disgust and said “What is this supposed to mean, Be Happy, Don’t Worry?!” …like that was a bad thing!
The thoughts that I entertain today are creating my tomorrow. So risking being thought of as an “unimportant thinker”, I think I’ll choose to think about raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens….just kidding, not really!
(in case you would like to hear My Favorite Things, from The Sound of Music, the link is below!)