The title of this blog is a play on something Anne Frank said. Her quote is, “I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.”
I’m thinking about what I write about. It reminds me of the personal work I’ve done during the last 13 years. I’ve done writing about anger. Writing about fear. Some writing about sadness. So I asked myself, “Where’s the joy?” Certainly there are persons, places, ideas, events and so on bringing joy to my life. Why don’t I write more about that?
It’s kinda funny – as in ironic, actually. As I finished that first paragraph, I started thinking about some of the events which brought sadness into my life. Be gone sadness, anger and fear, today, is about joy, and by gosh, that’s what I’m going to write about.
So, what are some of the things I’m joyful about, anyway? I’m so happy to say I have a wonderful relationship with my older brother, his wife and their kids. I know so many persons who have horrible, even non-existent relationships with their siblings. I cringe each and every time I hear about it. My brother and sister-in-law, (she’s really my sister from another Mother) are examples for me of how two persons can survive and thrive together for many years. This December, they will have been married for 44 years! I have a cousin and a dear friend, both gay, who’ve been in long term relationships as well. It brings me so much joy to see couples who’ve made the commitment and stuck to it.
I’m also joyful about my niece and nephew. My niece, well, she was the first baby I ever held. I was tricked into it. Have you seen the recent commercial where a gal is holding a baby, she has to go do something, so she turns to her brother-in-law and hands the baby off? Later she comes back and says she can take the baby back. He replies, “I got this.” That’s just about what happened with me. Only that wonderful brother and sister I’ve been talking about connived together to make it happen. I got this. I was the only member of the family for quite a while who could rock that little girl to sleep (cold hands, warm heart.) That little girl, by the way, turns 40 this year. Oy!
My nephew, now that’s a whole other story. I know there’s a cruel, mean part of me. My nephew got some of that as a youngster. He would run and hide when I would tease him, so I would tease him more. At some point, the part of me that is loving and caring stepped in. Then, we became really good friends. Today, we talk quite often. He’s a bit of a geek, so we can talk about geeky things such as computers and smartphones. I even, <cough> learn stuff from him sometimes <cough>. I’m so grateful for him and his wife as part of my life. They are just a joy to be around.
“I cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy. Let’s face it, friends make life a lot more fun.”
–Charles R. Swindoll
What Mr. Swindoll says pretty much sums up the happiness I derive from friends. In 2014, I have to say if it weren’t for <cough>Facebook<cough>, my life might be a bit emptier. For instance, I have friends on FB from my high school days (a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away). For some of them, I bet we didn’t say a hundred words to each other back then. Now, I can’t imagine how we weren’t closer all those years ago. Then, too, there are the folks I’ve known since grade school who are still my friends (you know who you are.) One friend really comes to mind. This is someone I was really close to my second go round in college. Then there was a 25 year absence. Once we reconnected, it was as if no time had passed. I look forward to talking with her regularly. And, if it weren’t for FB, we might not have.
There are also my friends in my ‘real world.’ Not many, but the few who are there, I know I can count on and they know they can count on me. Although I’m a bit of a recluse, it brings me great joy when I spend time with these folks. Great friends….priceless.
Regardless of what else is or isn’t going on in my life, I go to movies. A lot. I’m joyful I get to go to about 60+ movies a year. I tend to like action, shoot ’em up type films. Films like Taken or most of the Marvel movies. But, I also like movies that touch my heart and my soul. Films like Seabiscuit or Begin Again or The Help. I have no hesitation to tell you I cry a lot in movies. Oddly, I don’t like comedies very much. Those goofy films with Adam Sandler or Will Farrell. However, every once in a while, I’m sure someone in the theater is looking around for the odd guy guffawing out loud. That would be me.
I like to travel. I don’t do it enough. And, even though I’ve got status on American Airlines, I often don’t take the time to see a city I’m traveling to for business. Reminds me of a friend. This guy is very high up the food chain for a certain card game. He’s been all over the world playing the game. He’s played with some awesome celebrities. And, yet, the only thing he’s ever seen in many decades of doing this is the ballroom in the hotel where the game is being sponsored. I don’t want to be that guy for the rest of my life. I want to see things like Mount Rushmore, the Taj Mahal, the holy land. Most of all, I want to re-see all the parts of Scotland I rushed through in my youth. And…..wait for it…..I will.
I’ve always loved books. I’ve bought and held unto many. Many, I never read. Don’t get me wrong, there were many I did read; just many more I didn’t. I don’t know why. I know I’m not the only one like this, but ever since the Kindle, I read lots more. On planes. In restaurants. At home. Everywhere. And you know what I’m reading most? Many of the books I bought earlier in my life which I can now read on my Kindle. I’m sure someone has done a study on this, somewhere. Why is reading on an electronic device easier than holding a book in my hands? Turning each page. Hunting for a character introduced earlier in the book I’ve forgotten when he’s re-introduced (that’s one reason I do like my Kindle, it’s so much easier to search than a ‘real’ book.)
I would really be remiss to not say food brings me joy. You know that old expression, “Some eat to live, others live to eat” ? Well, I’m the latter. I L-O-V-E to eat. I’m lucky. I don’t have the current American obesity disease. Probably because I’m also very OCD or ADD or ADHD (ask my ex, she can tell you which one is the true Donny) But, I’ll freely admit, given my druthers, I’d eat like Michael Phelps in training. Imagine! 12,000 calories a day! Wow! (Of course that assumes one is burning 10,000 calories a day in workouts.)
Lastly, as a tag on to my little rant on eating, let me say I’m joyful for my health. I’m six years older than my Mother was (of course, her death was not natural). And, while I’ve had a couple of big fixes, three angioplasties and a three-level cervical discectomy, I’m really pretty healthy. I work out. I would also agree with one of my teachers: Tai Chi saved my life. Learning to slow down, breathe and take an hour to figure out nothing else but where my hands and feet are has been one of the great joys of my life.
(I’m saying this next thing as much to me, more, than you, the reader.) Take the time to be aware of the joys in your life. Cherish them. Get rid of the stuff which brings you no joy. The effort for both is, for me, clearly the same. Give me more joy.
How Am I Changing: I’m looking at all the emotions in my life. Please remind me when I stay on one too long.